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Colonial Transition in the Mine: An Environmental and Technological History of Ghana’s Gold Mining Sector (1930-1960s)
2017
The Ghanaian gold mining industry does not only occupy a strong position in African history and the globe at large, it equally has a long history which dates far back in time. While scholarship on the industry is very strong on current developments as well as traces to the pre-colonial and colonial era, less attention has so far been paid to how the colonial links with the post-colonial by giving agency to global and local conditions as well as human and non-human actors. This research attempts to provide an environmental history of the gold mining sector in Ghana using the transition as a historical bridge connecting and comparing the colonial with the early post-colonial. This was done by taking the late interwar era up to the 1960s as a long transitory period. It deployed historical methods such as imperial and post-colonial history, science, technology and environmental history focusing on Obuasi and Konongo in the Asante region of modern Ghana. Using archival documents of mining operations, colonial and early post-colonial government records, newspaper reports and relevant secondary literature, this research presents an argument that the environmental history of Ghana’s gold mining ought to be looked beyond dichotomizing the sector into the traditional periodization of African history which including the colonial and post-colonial. It rather suggests the mining space as a platform which had undergone a transition with different actors. Another significance of this research is an effort that was made to establish how the local connects and synchronizes Ghana's place within the global industry of gold mining over the colonial transition. It brings to fore, how happenings in the local, when looked carefully, is hitched up with global conditions including indigenous people and workers’ responses within the mining communities as well as the colonial and post-colonial governments’ actions within the gold mining industry.

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