Merel van 't Wout

Merel van ‘t Wout recently started as a PhD candidate in the project Society and Change in Northern Ghana: Dagomba, Gonja, and the Regional Perspective on Ghanaian Historyled by dr. M.R. Doortmont. In her PhD she will explore collective belonging and the construction of identities among youth in Tamale, the capital of the Northern Region of Ghana.

Previously, Merel completed her bachelor in Culture-and Languages at the University of Utrecht and did her research master in Modern History and International Relations at the University of Groningen. She completed both cum laude / with distinction.

Prior to her PhD appointment, Merel worked as a research assistant at the African Studies Centre. Furthermore, she was involved in the development and evaluation of life- and entrepreneurial skills training programmes in Bolgatanga (Ghana) during her internship with the Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana, a local NGO. Based on these experiences, Merel  gave lectures and facilitated working groups for summer- and executive courses on female entrepreneurship, initiated by  ‘De Ontwikkelingsfabriek’, in various institutions of higher learning (Maastricht School of Management, InHolland).

Merel’s multiple fieldwork visits to Northern Ghana  between 2011 and 2014 resulted in a master thesis – entitled Entrepreneurs by the Grace of God. Life and work of seamstresses in Bolgatanga, Ghana . In this thesis, she explored the interplay between the lifeworlds of young seamstresses in Northern Ghana, the NGOs that became involved in providing training to these girls and the discourse that celebrates female entrepreneurship as an empowering development strategy. Through an ethnographic study of the lives, dreams and ambitions of the women purported to become entrepreneurs, this thesis criticized the weak conceptualization of entrepreneurship in development discourse and the neglect of the socio-economic context in which “entrepreneurial” activities take place.

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African Studies Centre
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