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Bielefeld Graduate School
in History and Sociology
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Joshua Kwesi Aikins

Reshaping the Politics of Development - The Dynamics of Interaction between Western-style and indigenous political institutions in Ghana

The digital collage "Nkosuo Nkyinkyim" is a visualisation of my dissertation research project "Reshaping the Politics of Development - The Dynamics of Interaction between Western-style and indigenous political institutions in Ghana". I seek to examine to what extend the increasing inclusion of indigenous authorities in development programmes and planning opens up opportunities for a renegotiation of the meaning and practice, the agents and the targets of development ? and thus for a reshaping of its politics. In Ghana, indigenous authorities are refashioning themselves as development actors, developmental activities have been identified as most important new activity for indigenous authorities, who enter collaborative agreements with Western developmental organisations and NGOs - they bring to the table their "differently rooted" legitimacy that Western-style state institutions do not have access to. Indigenous authorities project their new role with increasing international success: Several indigenous institutions have received a multi- million dollar grant from the World Bank as pilot project for the Bank's plan to increase direct cooperation with indigenous authorities . At the same time, indigenous innovation has created the new offices of "nokosuohene" and "nkosuohemmaa", i.e. development chief and development queenmother. Very often, communities appoint returned or absent Ghanaian migrants or even non-Ghanaian business men or NGO workers to such positions in an attempt to harness their resource access, knowedge and networks for the development of the community. Ghanaians in the Diaspora recreate their indigenous political institutions, chiefs and queenmothers are also found in Germany which hosts the third-largest ghanaian diaspora, surpassed onlxy by the UK and the USA. Indigenous institutions have thus in many ways become sites of debates about the nature and the future, the underlying norms and the aims of changing ideas of development. These dynamics of change are depicted in the collage which challenges the spectator to move beyond the dichotomy between 'traditional', indigenous practices that are marginalised by 'modern', Western development interventions . Indigenous actors, representatives of Western institutions as well as ministers representing the Ghanaian government are depicted as they take part in a Durbar, a regular festival where chiefs and queenmothers sit in state, preside over their development boards and enable networking between the central government, the indigenous authorities, NGO representatives and the local population. The refashioning of the durbars to important meeting and networking points is one of the most apparent aspects of the changing dynamics of interaction between these divergent groups of actors

Curriculum Vitae

Personal Data

Joshua Kwesi Aikins
Day of Birth:
22.06.1980 in Berlin, Germany
Gropiusstraße 3
13357 Berlin, Germany
+4930 74774384

Education and Qualification

since April 08
PhD student at the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology of Universität Bielefeld, PhD research topic: "Reshaping the Politics of Development - The dynamics of interaction between Western-style and indigenous political institutions in Ghana"
June 07 - Feb. 08:
Diploma (MA equivalent) in Political Science, thesis on "Chieftaincy and Democracy in Ghana. Indigenous and Western political institutions between contestation, cooperation and complementarity" grade 1,3
Sept - Nov 07
final phase of studies at Freie Universität Berlin, diploma thesis on Chieftaincy and Democracy in Ghana
Aug 05 - Aug 06
Occasional Graduate Student at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana
Oct 2001
Political Science at Otto-Suhr-Institut of Freie Universität Berlin Prediploma in 2003 with grade 1,5
Oct 2000-June 2001
Information Management at University of Applied Sciences Potsdam
Abitur (A-level equivalent) at Friedrich-Engels-Gymnasium, Berlin
Charlie Chaplin Primary School, Berlin

Grants and Stipends

April 2008 - April 2011
Doctoral scholarship of the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology
Oct - Dec 2007
Stipendiary of Heinrich Boell Foundation
July 2005 - Aug 2006
Heinrich Boell Foundation grant for 2 semesters at University of Ghana
July 2005 - Aug 2006
DAAD grant for an internship with African Security Dialogue and Research (ASDR), Accra, Ghana


  • April 2009: Entries on "Anton Wilhelm Amo", "Nana Yaa Asantweaa", "Queen Nanny and Maroon Resistance" and "May Ayim" in Ness, Immanuel (Ed.): Blackwell Encyclopedia of Protest and Revolution
  • January 2009: Editor: Dossier Migration und Entwicklung, 11 articles
  • December 2008: Die alltägliche Gegenwart der kolonialen Vergangenheit - Entinnerung, Erinnerung und Verantwortung in der Kolonialmetropole Berlin, in: Däubler-Gmelin, H., Münzing, E., & Walther, C. Afrika - Europas verkannter Nachbar: Band 2 Lang, Peter Frankfurt.
  • with Prof. Takyiwaa Manuh (2007): "Co-Wives", article in the Oxford Women in World History Encyclopaedia
  • December 2006: Des weißen Rappers Bürde - HipHop und Weißsein in Deutschland, in: HipHop zwischen Mainstream und Jugendprotest, Online Dossier der Heinrich Böll Stiftung
  • May 2006:Conference report: IDS 40 Round Table Discussion 'The Future of Development' May 5 Institute of Africn Studies
  • March-April 2006: Post-Editing and preparation of 'Change and Transformation in Ghana's Publicly-funded Universities' von Prof. Takyiwaa Manuh, Dr Sulley Gariba und Joseph Budu
  • September 2005: Wer mit Feuer spielt... Aneignung und Widerstand - Schwarze Musik/Kulturen in Deutschlands weißem Mainstream. In: Maureen Maisha Eggers, Grada Kilomba, Peggy Piesche, Susan Arndt (Hg.): Mythen, Masken und Subjekte. Kritische Weißseinsforschung in Deutschland, Münster
  • October 2004: "Die alltägliche Gegenwart der kolonialen Vergangenheit" in: Antidiskriminierungsbüro Köln; cybernomads (Hg,):TheBlackBook - Deutschlands Häutungen, Frankfurt a.M.; London 2004
  • December 2003: Article in the Online Dossier "Afrikanische Diaspora in Deutschland" of Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung,0,0,Die_allt%E4gliche_Gegenwart_der_kolonialen_Vergangenheit.html
  • Dec. 2002 - Apr 2003: Writing of the concept "Begegnungen mit Menschen anstatt Belehrungen über Kulturen - Ideen zu intra- und internetgestützter interkultureller Kommunikation in der hbs" und eines Folgekonzeptes
  • Initiatoren des "Brothers Keepers" Musikprojets, Interviewer : Joshua Aikins und Daniel Bax, published in taz, 07.12.2001

-> weitere Meldungen


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