Accepted Paper:

Hair, Hoards and Citizen-Making in Northern Ghana  


Ulrik Jennische (Stockholm University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the morality of hoarding in the process of citizen making among small-scale traders in Northern Ghana.

Paper long abstract:

In a process of citizen-making, in which the state attempts to formalize an economy it simultaneously defines as informal, small-scale traders in Ghana invest their earnings in durable products that last the test of time, heat and inflation. Hajia, a market trader in Tamale, have during the last decade invested in several large bags of hair. Natural and fake hair-extensions are popular among women all over Ghana. These bags of hair enable her to plan and "think ahead". The price of hair and other long-lasting products can be raised following the devaluation of the currency. Also, such investments make it easier to avoid obligations of small cash contributions to distant friends and kin. Meanwhile, to enhance the flow of money and simplify regulation and taxing, the government encourages traders to increasingly use bank accounts and take micro credits. While the government in this way blames traders of hoarding, traders reverse the accusation back to the state. The common saying "there is no money in the system" encapsulate how traders claim economic insecurity and slow markets are due to the government's inability to let the money flow. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among small-scale traders in northern Ghana, this paper draws on recent literature on hoarding and banking (Peebles 2014, James 2012, Hull 2012) and seeks to explore the morality of hoarding as a way to study the process of citizen-making and formalization.

Panel P109
Hoarding, temporality, and value: regimes of accumulation and dispersal