The making and unmaking of political belonging in the Ghana-Togo borderlands

Raunet, Nathalie (2021). The making and unmaking of political belonging in the Ghana-Togo borderlands. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis offers an analysis of belonging claims rooted at different scales (the local, regional, national, international, and transnational) in the border region between Ghana and Togo. I argue that the political belonging found at the local level and based on ideas of ‘indigeneity’ – whereby the individual is bound to a particular community and has access to a bundle of rights by virtue of the ‘first-comer’ or ‘early-comer rule’ – informs and contributes to the making of other types of political belonging at different levels (the transnational, the nation, the region), particularly in moments when political belonging is contested or requires recognition. Therefore, the thesis will show that ideas of indigeneity are used to contest and recognise the different political memberships in various political communities. This mechanism is instrumentalized at the national level by political parties, and at the international level by neighbouring Togo in the context of Ghanaian and Togolese diplomatic relations and elections.

This thesis therefore asks how a political community is constructed and with what boundaries, especially when it lies across borders, or at another level than the nation-state. It will show that the concept of political belonging can be relevant at different scales in different forms, interacting with one another, and challenging the usual unit of analysis of the nation-state. Similarly to a palimpsest, political communities and their associated political belonging are created on top of each other, so that each level of political belonging shows traces of the other layers hidden beneath it. This thesis shows that each level of political belonging depends on the other, and that each level is only part of a whole that cannot be ignored in the study of the politics of belonging.

By connecting the different debates and claims about political belonging at different scales to the historical literature on the Ghana-Togo borderlands and to anthropology on belonging and indigeneity, the thesis produces an inter-disciplinary and inter-scale analysis that historicises the political science literature on elections and better theorises the more empirical literature on the Ghana-Togo borderlands. Historical and anthropological insights will enable to reveal patterns in the making and unmaking of political belonging in the Ghana-Togo borderlands, as expressed at different scales, in different localities, and through different kinds of claims.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of African Studies and Anthropology
Funders: Other
Other Funders: A.E. Hills Scholarship, Central Postgraduate Scholarship, University of Birmingham
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT Africa
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)


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