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29 April 2024

New project awarded £1.6m UKRI grant to explore Ghana's decolonial arts and culture

Dr Jarad Zimbler has been awarded a £1.6m grant from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to explore how Ghanaian art and culture was shaped by influences from abroad during the decolonial period.

20240429 Accra Ghana

LITAID: Decolonization, Appropriation and the Materials of Literature in Africa and its Diaspora, selected by the European Research Council (ERC) and funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will examine cultural production and arts education in Ghana from the late 1940s to the early 1960s.

This is an immensely important project which brings together themes of materiality, the politics of literary canonicity and decolonization in African literary studies in new and fascinating ways. The project will enable us to develop lasting partnerships with colleagues in Ghana. I am hugely excited about what this project will do.

Professor Daniel Orrells, Head of Cultures, Faculty of Arts & Humanities

This five-year project will enable researchers to explore how Ghanaian art and culture was shaped by influences from abroad during the decolonial period. Considering the rest of Africa and the African diaspora, the research will also interrogate how Ghanaian independence influenced the cultural production and decolonizing practices of other communities, particularly in the United States, the Caribbean and South Africa.

As the first nation in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve its full independence from a European colonial power, Ghana became a focus of intense global interest. In the mid-1950s, artists, intellectuals and activists travelled to West Africa from across the world, drawn by the excitement of what was then unfolding. Over the course of this five-year project, we plan to build a picture of Ghanaian literary culture and arts education were shaped by decolonization, how they contributed to it, and how this ramified across Africa and the Africa diaspora. We want to tackle difficult questions about how cultural appropriation interacts with the expressions of solidarity, and we also want to show what the arts meant and what they did in this hugely significant moment.

Dr Jarad Zimbler, Principal Investigator on the Project and Reader in English and Global Cultures

The project will deliver a comprehensive, field-based account of Ghanaian cultural production in the period of formal decolonization, and provide detailed study of Ghanaian print culture, generating freely accessible databases and visualizations. This research also includes analysis of how visiting Ghana shaped the careers of three writers from abroad: the African American novelist Richard Wright, the Barbadian poet Kamau Brathwaite, and the South African poet Guy Butler.

To find out more about the project visit the LITAID project page.

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Reader in English and Global Cultures