African Market Women: Seven Life Stories from Ghana

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Overview

In these lively life stories, women market traders from Ghana comment on changing social and economic times and on reasons for their prosperity or decline in fortunes. Gracia Clark shows that market women are intimately connected with economic policy on a global scale. Many work at the intersection of sophisticated networks of transnational commerce and migration. They have dramatic memories of independence and the growth of their new nation, including political rivalries, price controls, and violent raids on the market. The experiences of these women give substance to their reflections on globalization, capital accumulation, colonialism, technological change, environmental degradation, teenage pregnancy, marriage, children, changing gender roles, and spirituality. Clark's commentary illuminates the complex historical and cultural setting of these deeply revealing lives.

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Editorial Reviews

International Journal of African Historical Studies
"African Market Women provides a unique insider's view into the highly complicated workings of the West African commodities trade. Through the words of some of the market's most accomplished veterans, readers can see the daily efforts involved in distribution and marketing of some of Ghana's most essential household items." —Intl Jrnl. of African Historical Studies, Vol. 43, no. 2, 2010
Choice
"Clark... offers intriguing insights into the lives of seven Akan women traders.... Recommended." —Choice
Journal of Africa
"Overall, this is an excellent book: it will be useful in undergraduate teaching and makes an important contribution to our understanding of the richness and variety of women's lives in West Africa." —Journal of Africa
Jean Allman
"Provides rich and nuanced insight into a range of themes which are at the very heart of late colonial and postcolonial scholarship on Africa: globalization, gender and economic security, economic decline, structural adjustment, changes in family structure, urbanization, environmental degradation, new forms of spirituality, transnational migration, and the politics of memory." —Jean Allman, Washington University
Jane Guyer
"Shows, in direct speech, how family, kinship, marriage and age/generation work together in a daily life which is shaped by political, demographic, cultural, and wholly accidental change in people's circumstances." —Jane Guyer, Johns Hopkins University
H-Net Reviews H-Africa
"[This] book may be read as both a scholarly study and a collection of primary sources: accessible to a general reader, and likely to be of particular interest to students and scholars seeking knowledge about Ghana, women's studies, and/or African social history and economic life. For readers who are already familiar with Clark's first book, African Market Women will be a welcome and rewarding companion volume." —H-Africa, H-Net Reviews, July, 2010
Intl Jrnl. of African Historical Studies
"African Market Women provides a unique insider's view into the highly complicated workings of the West African commodities trade. Through the words of some of the market's most accomplished veterans, readers can see the daily efforts involved in distribution and marketing of some of Ghana's most essential household items." —Intl Jrnl. of African Historical Studies, Vol. 43, no. 2, 2010
R. Ellovich
Clark (Indiana Univ.), an experienced fieldworker and expert on Ghanaian market women who has done research in Kumasi since 1978, offers intriguing insights into the lives of seven Akan women traders. This life history project, begun in 1994, is a tribute to long-term research where informants and researcher are familiar with and trust each other. Clark's previous work has emphasized women's economic activities and the family relations supporting them. The narratives here reflect those issues and add religion and change as important themes. Throughout, the respondents feel free to offer moral advice to the anthropologist. Directly quoted life histories, ranging from 14 to 29 pages, constitute the majority of the book. Brief prefatory statements about the respondents precede each chapter. All narratives were recorded and informants' editorial suggestions were sought. While the women are approximately the same age and share nationality, ethnicity, and occupation, the individual perspectives that emerge speak to the heterogeneity of their experiences. The introduction and conclusion contain essential background information and analysis. There is spare use of explanatory footnotes; helpful maps and photos are included. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. — ChoiceR. Ellovich, North Carolina State University, Jan. 2011
From the Publisher
"Clark... offers intriguing insights into the lives of seven Akan womentraders.... Recommended." — Choice
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253221544
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 1/8/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 751,938
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Gracia Clark is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University Bloomington. She is author of Onions Are My Husband: Survival and Accumulation by West African Market Women and has edited several volumes dealing with gender and economic life in West Africa.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Trading Lives 1

1 Abenaa Adiiya

Portrait: An Adventurer on the Road 30

Story: Patience and Pleading 32

2 Maame Kesewaa

Portrait: A Quiet Saver 63

Story: Someone Has Set Herself a Goal 65

3 Madame Ataa

Portrait: A Good Citizen 83

Story: A Man Would Marry You Properly 84

4 Amma Pokuaa

Portrait: A Market Daughter 113

Story: All of Them Depend upon Me 115

5 Auntie Afriyie

Portrait: A Shrewd Dealer 129

Story: If You Have Wisdom, You Can Do Many Jobs 131

6 Sister Buronya

Portrait: An International Observer 164

Story: If I Had Money, I Would Go 165

7 Maame Nkrumah

Portrait: A Grateful Sister 187

Story: She Has Cared for Me and My Children 189

Conclusion: Little by Little 218

Appendix 247

Glossary 251

Notes 255

References 259

Index 263

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