Research News: Dr Samuel Ntewusu appointed KNAW Visiting Professor; Dutch photographer Jan Banning to portray chiefs of Gonja and Dagomba

The first year of the research programme Society and Change in Northern Ghana came to an end with lots of activities and developments. In October 2015, a delegation of programme members participated in the African Studies Association of Africa Conference in Ibadan, Nigeria. Papers were presented by PhD students Anouk Baron and Merel van ’t Wout, both coming over from their fieldwork in Ghana, and programme coordinators Samuel Ntewusu, Felix Longi, and Michel Doortmont. The panel and papers generated an interesting discussion by a mixed audience of graduate students and academics.

KNAW Visiting Professor

In December, news was received that Dr Samuel Ntewusu (Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana and co-coordinator of the programme) has been appointed to the prestigious position of KNAW Visiting Professor for 2016-2017 by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. The nomination was made by KNAW professor and Spinoza Premium winner prof. Birgit Meyer. The position allows Samuel to travel to Leiden three times for the programme, and organise a conference and several workshops.

Photo project

The  photo project, led by Noorderlicht Photography Groningen, is now also under way, with Dutch photographer Jan Banning preparing to go to Ghana in the coming months. He will do a photo project on the chiefs of Gonja and Dagomba, in the form of ‘portraits in context’.

Research assistants

More positive news came from the University of Groningen, associated with the programme. The Faculty of Arts honoured Michel Doortmont’s application for two paid research assistants from the research master programme Modern History and International Relations. Ms Hannah Sarfati will be working on aspects of state formation and successes and failures of the state in relationship to traditional and modern politics in Northern Ghana. Mr Alexandru Melinte is going to assist with research into conflict and conflict resolution. Their contract runs from February to November 2016 and they will work both in Groningen and Leiden.

New PhD candidate

We are sad to announce that Anouk Baron will be leaving the programme at the end of February 2016. Anouk informed us in late December that she had decided not to pursue her PhD project further for private reasons. Instead she will join the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she will train as a diplomat. We are fortunate that we found Ms Alice Kubo as an able replacement for Anouk. Alice is a Development Studies specialist, with research and consultancy experience in different parts of Africa, including Ghana. She will be taking up the shea butter project that Anouk initiated and develop this further.

Ghanaian PhD candidates coming to Leiden

For 2016 a range of activities are being planned, from the residency of Samuel Ntewusu, to participation of the programme team in the Ghana Studies Association Conference in Cape Coast, Ghana in July, the Ghanaian PhD candidates coming to Leiden in the second half of the year, and the organisation of the first international conference in December in Leiden, under the auspices of the KNAW.

Michel Doortmont