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History and Ideology of an Akan Centre: The Cosmological Topography of Wiawso

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This article documents in a specific setting, the Sefwi variant of the Akan civilization of West Africa, the complex interplay between history and ideology in the establishment of settlements' hegemony. The text scrutinizes sources on specific historical circumstances concerning the transformation of Wiawso, the town chosen for this exercise of cosmological topography, over the last three centuries. The demographic, social, ritual and urban dynamics are discussed with reference to the semantics of the spatial dimension of Akan settlements' hegemonic ambitions. The focus on the interplay between history and ideology elucidates two issues. First, the importance of strategic and historically-specific evocation and display of objects, sites and narratives claiming reference to the past, in generating and mobilizing structures of signification sustaining Wiawso's recognized prominence. Second, the persistence over time of certain Akan ideological features concerning principally what the past entails and the standards for evaluating settlements' success in centralization.
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Keywords: Akan; Ghana; Hegemony; History; Ideology; Landscape

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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