Colloquium "(Re)Constructing belonging: upward mobility, family ties, and funerals in Ghana"

Tuesday, 17. April 2018 - 17:00
Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Lentzeallee 94, 14195 Berlin, Small Conference Room
Center for the History of Emotions
Christina Becher, sekfrevert@mpib-berlin.mpg.de

The Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, led by Prof. Ute Frevert, cordially invites all interested to attend its summer semester 2018 colloquium

Carola Lentz, Institute for Advanced Study (WIKO), Berlin; Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz

(Re)Constructing belonging: upward mobility, family ties, and funerals in Ghana

In Ghana, as in many other societies, funerals constitute crucial moments when social belonging is validated. Over the past decades, with the opportunities afforded by new mortuary technologies, Ghanaian funerals have become ever more refined, lavish, and costly, attracting up to several hundred mourners and guests. This paper discusses funerals organised by, and for, urbanised middle-class men and women who originate from Ghana’s marginalised rural north. For them, funerals constitute an occasion during which the deceased’s home ties are re-evaluated and the relations of his (or her) survivors with their rural kin re-negotiated. At the same time, they are an arena in which upward mobility and social status is performed vis-à-vis the broader home constituency and fellow members of the middle class.

Carola Lentz is professor of anthropology at Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz. Her research focusses on West Africa, and questions of ethnicity and nationalism, colonial and post-colonial history, land rights, the emergence of a middle class, and the politics of memory. Her latest book Land, Mobility and Belonging in West Africa (2013) received the Melville Herskovits Award by the African Studies Association of the US. She is member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Currently, she is Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study (WIKO) in Berlin.