Accepted paper:

Slaves, Fish, and Oil: How Shipping has connected 'Ghana' through the Oceans, 1658-2018


Annette Skovsted Hansen (Aarhus University)

Paper short abstract:

Shipping has and still interferes with the present Ghana as it connects the area to the rest of the world over the oceans. This paper discusses shipping as global history integrating African histories and argues that the Port of Tema is key to the world of shipping historically and today.

Paper long abstract:

Some historians have focused on specific products to write global histories, others have focused on single oceans as spaces of global history. However, this paper uses shipping as a way to show how people, states, and companies have connected and interfered in local affairs through the shipping industry as new technologies, products, and entrepreneurs have changed and benefitted over centuries. The specific focus of this paper will be the ports of Ghana, formerly known to Europeans as the Gold Coast, and how shipping of slaves, fish, oil, and much more has connected Ghana to the Americas, Europe, and Asia since the 1400s and how the largest shipping company in the world, Maersk, gained their preferential status at Tema Port. Based on critical readings of archival findings, recent reports, and interviews, the paper argues that the Port of Tema is key to the world of shipping, historically and today. Nevertheless, the interests of the shipping industry have not always coincided with those of local stakeholders. The paper raises questions on how and when the Port of Tema has worked on its own terms, as well as, how and when shipping on Tema has disrupted shipping elsewhere. The argument is that shipping as an industry has a history involving places on its own terms and only, secondarily, the terms of the places it connects.

panel His13
Transport and travel - connections and disruptions