Accepted paper:

From teŋa to town: the shift to urban centralization in the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast

Author:

Domenico Cristofaro (Università degli Studi di Bologna)

Paper short abstract:

The paper will focus on the history of Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region of Ghana. Drawing upon the indigenous concepts of dwelling, the paper will show how settlements were planned. The aim is to prove the reliability of the indigenous settlement pattern as a tool of analysis for the case study.

Paper long abstract:

The paper will focus on the historical development of the city of Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region of Ghana, from its first contacts with European explorers to the implementation of British colonial rule. The aim of the paper is to show how the urban planning of the town was not entirely the product of colonial rule, but rather the result of several factors, among which the indigenous planning and socio-political organization, the centralization of political power and the response to British urban policies. The paper will argue that neither a village, nor even the very concept of it, existed in the area. Drawing upon the indigenous concepts of dwelling, the paper will show how settlements were conceived and planned. The definition of the patterns of the indigenous settlement (teŋa) will then be linked to the political context and its changing form during colonial rule. The paper is intended to show the reliability and potentiality of the indigenous settlement pattern as a tool of analysis for the case study. The paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Bolgatanga with both qualitative and quantitative approaches. In addition to this, an archival research has been done in the Ghana Public Records and Archive Administration Departments in Accra, Tamale and Bolgatanga, in the White Fathers Archive in Rome, and in the National Archives in London. The paper is part of an ongoing PhD research project on the economic and urban history of the Upper East Region of Ghana.

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Spatial theory and African urban studies