Most development histories focus on large-scale projects and multi-year plans. But how would we understand development differently if we chose a different starting point? In Village Work: Development and Rural Statecraft in Twentieth-Century Ghana (Ohio UP, 2021), Alice Wiemers exchanges the center for the periphery. Writing outwards from Kpasenpke, a village in northern Ghana, Wiemers shows how the daily labor of rural people, local officials and family networks have all shaped a practice of rural statecraft centered on developmentalism. By insisting on the specificity of the hinterland and interchangeability of its so-called “developers”, Village Work proposes a new framework for approaching Ghana’s twentieth century.
Elisa Prosperetti is a Visiting Assistant Professor in African history at Mount Holyoke College. Her research focuses on the connected histories of education and development in postcolonial West Africa. Contact her at: www.elisaprosperetti.net.
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