The Ghana Fieldschool offers a 4 week programme at the beginning of your three month field research. It includes training in fieldwork methods, practiced during an introduction to daily life in 3 cities; the capital on the coast Accra, the buzzing trade hub Kumasi and the fast growing urban center Tamale in the countryside of Northern Ghana.

The Ghana Fieldschool is organized by two staff members from our institute and Dr. Samuel Ntewusu (University of Ghana at Legon). Ntewusu accompanies the group the first two weeks. A Leiden staff member is present during the entire four week period. Another staff member will visit each student in the second month in order to evaluate and discuss the research.
The training in fieldwork methods includes topics such as:

  • observation & hanging out;
  • participant observation;
  • semi-structured interview & other kinds of interview;
  • photo elicitation;
  • use of social media;
  • locating and using archival material

You will be shortly introduced to the “method of the day” in the early morning and practice them “in the field” during the rest of the day. Each day will be concluded by an after-dinner meeting, collective or individual, to report and reflect back on the day’s activities.

4 weeks programme

Week 1: Accra
During the first week the students are housed at the International Hostel of the university campus. Every student presents research to Ghanaian students, there will be an interview workshop at the Night Market (close to the International Students Hostel), a visit to archives in Accra, and several guest lectures (on fieldwork-related issues) by Ghanaian scholars. At the end of this week the group moves to Kumasi for a short stay, and there will be observation training at the Saturday Market and an observation training at a Sunday’s church service.

Week 2: Tamale and Bolgatanga
The second week will be spent in Tamale and Bolgatanga. The students will be taken to the countryside in order to learn about the pros and cons of fieldwork opportunities outside the urban areas. In the Bolgatanga area a gold mining area will be visited. Several methods will be trained and evaluated (individually and within the group – supervision by both Ntewusu and Leiden University staff member).

Week 3: Own fieldwork location
In the third week each student will spend a few nights on the location of fieldwork preference, and will systematically explore how and to what extent the questions in the research proposal can be operationalized in practice in the field.

Week 4: Group evaluation
During the fourth week, the students will join a group evaluation in which the (im)possibilities of the research and the location will be explored, both individually (with the staff member) and within the group.

Possible research topics

The topic for your MA research as part of the Ghana Fieldschool is your own choice. On occasion, it might be possible to link up your project with ongoing research by a staff member. Ghana’s rich history, its cultural, regional and religious diversity in combination with a booming economy make this country a most interesting place to embark upon anthropological research, a wide range of possible topics.

Just to give an impression of topics which may be interesting and are closely connected to the different courses offered in our programme:

Environment and Development
  • The forest environment is under pressure in Ghana as a result of mining, and agrarian forms of livelihood
  • Issues related to dam large scale dams (Volta dam): resettlement, alternative livelihoods related to water use e.g.
  • Mining is prominent in Ghana and this raises many questions about conflicts over land, redistribution of mineral wealth, debates on mining and development goals
  • Ghana is a country with many NGO’s, all embedded in international collaborations. Many topics could be addressed e.g. how the mushrooming of these organizations is linked to issues of governmentality and citizenship

Global economy and culture
Ghana’s economy is currently booming (off shore oil e.g.). This boom raises many expectations and opportunities
  • Possibilities to take loans are widely advertised. The offer of loans and the way these are used (for consumption or for setting up businesses) would make for good topics
  • Many Ghanese live & work abroad (think of the Bijlmer). They send home substantial amounts of remittances
  • Funerals are prolific in Ghana and can be studied as expression of wealth and global connections

Media and material culture
  • Ghana has an impressive film industry that could be the object of many beautiful research projects
  • Body cultures e.g. by studying aspects of Fashion industry or Hair dressing styles

  • Ghana has a sad history of slavery, which is currently the focus of heritage practices and forms a major reason for many tourists to come and visit historical sites in Ghana
  • Protection of Cultural Heritage is also a part of Corporate Social Responsibility projects of mining companies