Dilemmas of Culture in African Schools
Youth, Nationalism, and the Transformation of Knowledge
Coe identifies the state's limitations in teaching cultural knowledge and discusses how Ghanaians negotiate the tensions raised by the competing visions of modernity that nationalism and Christianity have created. She reveals how cultural curricula affect authority relations in local social organizations—between teachers and students, between Christians and national elite, and between children and elders—and raises several questions about educational processes, state-society relations, the production of knowledge, and the making of Ghana's citizenry.
Introduction: Dilemmas of Culture in African Schools
Part One: How Culture Became the Property of the State
1. "Every Nation Has Its Own Gifts": Christianity, Schooling, and the Construction of Tradition
2. Drumming and Dancing: The State's Involvement in Tradition
Part Two: How Culture Is Reclaimed by Its Citizens
3. The Location of Culture: The Politician, the Chief, or the Teacher?
4. Modernity Divided: Christianity and the Cultural Program in the Schools
5. Folk Culture as School Knowledge: The Contradictions of Teaching Culture in Schools
6. "Do You Know How to Drum?": Youth, Knowledge, and the State
Conclusion: Youth, Nationalism, and the Transformation of Knowledge
"In Dilemmas of Culture in African Schools, Cati Coe examines the social and political consequences of overlapping systems of knowledge production in contemporary Ghana. This is an engrossing study that raises many compelling questions about educational processes, state-society relations, nationalism, cultural pluralism and cultural policy, the production of knowledge, and the production of citizens."
“Dilemmas of Culture in African Schools explores the problems of competing discourses on culture in Ghana, involving state representatives, traditional chiefs, and born-again Christians. Cati Coe carefully unpacks the genealogy of state and church discourses on culture and how attempts to mobilize culture for the sake of national identity or development paradoxically depend on alienation from culture as a lived reality. This book combines a vivid ethnography of how culture is taught in schools with a critical analysis of processes of cultural reification. Resisting being caught up in the opposition of tradition and modernity that underpins calls for a cultural revival throughout Africa, she offers a substantial contribution to our understanding of the complex dynamics of contemporary cultural politics in Africa.”--Birgit Meyer, University of Amsterdam
“Dilemmas of Culture in African Schools sets out to interrogate the many ways in which ‘culture’ has been locally delineated, naturalized, and subsequently transformed in relation to the Ghanaian state. Central to the production of Ghana’s national identity, the book argues, has been the role the state’s educational apparatus has played in fostering an ideological landscape in which differences—ethnic and religious, regional and class-based—are subsumed under the totalizing auspices of ‘national culture' . . . . [The book] signals an engaging anthropology of education whose implications should resonate beyond the boundaries of that subdiuscipline.” —Brian Goldstone, Anthropological Quarterly