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Divisive Democracy, Urban Trade, and Small-Small Politics in Northern Ghana
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5986-7165
2019 (English)In: kritisk etnografi: Swedish Journal of Anthropology, ISSN 2003-1173, Vol. 2, no 1-2, p. 125-140Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Political governance in Tamale, Northern Ghana, is complicated by the conflict between the two royal lineages within the traditional Dagbon state that culminated with the killing of the paramount chief in 2002. The major political parties have in turn politicized this division and thus contaminated the national government with the Dagbon political predicaments. The Ghanaian constitution amplifies this bifurcation through its winner-takes-all system that vests great power in the president. Based on ten months of ethnographic fieldwork, this article explores these entanglements by analyzing small-scale street and market traders’ relation to the political parties. Although politically interested and engaged, traders often find political parties as polarizing and responsible for the conflict. While this distrust toward political parties and the government risks undermining the entire project of decentralization, it also brings traders together. This perspective thus challenges common understandings of democracy by showing how social cohesion and a sense of community can be formed in response to democratic processes and development projects rather than resulting from them. This article simultaneously shows how, alongside the conflict, there has always been a peace process beyond that initiated by the political establishment and the eminent chiefs. This peace process manifests itself in the long- term economic and social relations that underpins the moral economy of small-scale urban trade.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 2, no 1-2, p. 125-140
Keywords [en]
Ghana, democracy, conflict, trade, citizenship
National Category
Social Anthropology
Research subject
Social Anthropology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-187421OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-187421DiVA, id: diva2:1508325
Available from: 2020-12-10 Created: 2020-12-10 Last updated: 2022-02-25Bibliographically approved

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Jennische, Ulrik

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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Output format
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