Society and Change in Northern Ghana: Dagomba, Gonja, and the Regional Perspective on Ghanaian History

  • Rider in Salaga 1928
    Rider in Salaga, 1928.

The research project Society and Change in Northern Ghana: Dagomba, Gonja, and the Regional Perspective on Ghanaian History is a historical research and training programme. It focuses on the Dagomba and Gonja peoples, polities and cultures in Northern Ghana. The project provides an opportunity for universities in Ghana and the Netherlands to cooperate in developing academic expertise and capacity in the fields of regional history/regional studies.

Michel Doortmont, historian and reader in International Relations and African Studies at University of Groningen, has been seconded to the African Studies Centre in Leiden to manage the project for a period of 5 years.

Peoples’ history

Themes of study include migration histories and state formation in (Northern) Ghana, the political, social-economic and cultural context (or ethnography) of conflict and conflict resolution, the reformulation of social history from a peoples’ point of view, expectations of statecraft in colonial and post-colonial society, and the contextual history of Northern Ghanaian culture and heritage.

Photo project

A photo project in which leading photographers will share their documentary and artistic vision on the region and the Gonja and Dagomba peoples, will be part of the programme. The photo project will be established in cooperation with Noorderlicht Photography.

Practical information

The programme started on 1 January 2015 and will run for a period of five years.  It foresees in the training of 6 PhD candidates, the organization of workshops and (international) conferences, the publication of articles, book(s), and the maintenance of a multimedia website. The launch of the project in Ghana took place on 5 February 2015.

Research coordinators

African Studies Centre Leiden: 
Michel Doortmont

Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon: 
Dr. Samuel Ntewusu

Faculty of Integrated Development Studies, University for Development Studies in Tamale and Wa:
Dr. Felix Longi

PhD affiliates in Ghana

Jacob Ibrahim Abdu 
Samuel Nana Abokyi 
Agape Kanyiri Damwah 
Tanko Daniel Dawda

Research project
2015 to 2020

Senior researchers

PhD affiliates



Dagomba, Gonja, regional history, migration history, social history, state formation, conflict, colonial society, post-colonial society, culture, heritage

Funding and cooperation


African Tiger Holding Ltd.


- Leiden University
- Institute of African Studies & Department of History, University of Ghana at Legon
- Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Integrated Development Studies, University for Development Studies, Tamale/Wa, Ghana

Associate partners in the project:
- Institute Globalisation Studies Groningen, University of Groningen 
- Department of International Relations and International Organisation, University of Groningen