Global Ghana Conference

The Africa Institute, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
08 Mar 2022 - 10 Mar 2022

M.anifes, 2022. Courtesy the artist.

M.anifes, 2022. Courtesy the artist.

The Africa Institute in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates—the first center of its kind dedicated to the advanced study, research, and documentation of Africa and the African diaspora located in the Arab world—presents Global Ghana, a multi-disciplinary scholarly conference in two parts: Global Ghana: Sites of Departure/Sites of Return held in Sharjah on March 8–10, 2022, followed by Global Ghana: In Search of Africa’s Black Star, held in Ghana in July 2022.

In its second year, The Africa Institute’s country-focused season is an annual initiative exploring one African country or African diaspora community through a range of scholarly and public programs. With programs in Sharjah, UAE and Accra, Ghana, Global Ghana is organized by The Africa Institute in collaboration with leading scholars Akosua Adomako Ampofo, Jean Allman, Carina Ray, and Joseph Oduro-Frimpong.

The Africa Institute’s Ghana-focused season aims to critically and creatively engage Ghana’s history and contemporary condition. Pushing beyond conventional narratives that oversimplify the nation’s profound significance to its citizens, continental neighbors, and the larger African diaspora, the season seeks to reveal the complex and contested forces that have shaped Ghana, past and present.

Global Ghana: Sites of Departure/Sites of Return
Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, March 8–10, 2022
The first part of the two-part scholarly conference, Global Ghana: Sites of Departure/Sites of Return, will examine the ways in which Ghana has emerged over the last century as a focal point of diasporic engagement beginning with early 20th-century Back to Africa movements, followed by Pan-Africanism, anticolonial liberation movements, and more recently, with heritage tourism. One of the focal points of the conference will be Ghana’s efforts to cultivate and curate diasporic engagement among African-descended people in the diaspora and Ghanaians living abroad through the recent Year of Return and Beyond the Return campaigns.

The season will push beyond Ghana’s Atlantic world connections to open a wider field of enquiry about Ghana’s relations with the Arab world, and examinations of the past, present, and future of Afro-Arab relations. Global Ghana: Sites of Departure/Sites of Return seeks to welcome and engage audiences in Sharjah and throughout the UAE with compelling and thoughtfully developed dialogue.

Global Ghana panel discussions cover topics ranging from Pan-Africanism, reparations and restitution, and legacies of liberation. Additional information on the panels can be found at here.

Performances will complement the conference, including still Aluta Continua, a performance by Ghanian artist Elisabeth Efua Sutherland examining the quest for true African liberation, engaging with questions of neocolonialism and self-love as they underpin contemporary African economic, political, and daily struggles.

A concert featuring award-winning Ghanian rapper, singer and songwriter M.anifest that will mark the opening of Global Ghana on March 8.

The Global Ghana program also includes Gerald Annan-Forson: Revolution and Image-making in Postcolonial Ghana (1979-1985), an exhibition developed in collaboration with Sharjah Art Foundation, on view beginning March 7 at Al Hamriyah Studios through July 7. The first retrospective of the work of Ghanaian photographer Gerald Annan-Forson, the exhibition is curated by artist and ethnographer Jesse Weaver Shipley, Professor of African and African American Studies and Oratory, Dartmouth College, USA. Featuring photographs primarily taken between 1979 and 1985, Revolution and Image-making in Postcolonial Ghana traces the political and social life of Ghana during a period of revolution and transformation captured through the photographer’s lens, offering a visual story of postcolonial Ghana and its struggles and aspirations in the post-independence period. Annan-Forson’s style of composition, lens focus, formal repetitions, character representation, and long-term commitment to documenting the changing landscape of Accra, Ghana, reshapes understanding of photography as a tool of radical image-making.


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