2018 Boahen-Wilks Prize Winner—Esther de Bruijn

The  Boahen-Wilks Outstanding Scholarly Article Prize commemorates two outstanding scholars of Ghana Studies, Albert Adu Boahen and Ivor Wilks. GSA Boahen-Wilks Article Prize recognizes and highlights scholarship on Ghana that demonstrates rigor, innovation, and dynamism.

The prize winner is announced at the GSA Business Meeting at the annual African Studies Association meetings.

For the 2018 prize, we received 13 nominations from diverse fields of study, including history, gender studies, geography, labor studies, English, music, anthropology, theater arts, health policy, and others. After a lively discussion, the committee selected a recipient and an honorable mention.


Esther de BruijnThe recipient of the 2018 Boahen-Wilks Prize is Esther de Bruijn for her article, “Sensationally Reading Ghana’s Joy-Ride Magazine,” which was published in The Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry.Joy-ride magazine

De Bruijn’s article at once serves as a history of Ghanaian print culture in the 1980s and 1990s—one that skillfully contextualizes the uniqueness of Joy-Ride in this particular moment in Ghana—and undertakes an innovative analysis of the magazine’s allusions to previous genres and modes of storytelling in Ghana. The article reveals connections between different popular forms and resuscitates the magazine. It skillfully connects literary, popular culture, and political developments and sheds light on an understudied time period in Ghanaian history. It is thoroughly researched and well written.


The committee awarded an honorable mention to a close runner-up–Jessica R. Ham’s article, “Cooking to be Modern but Eating to be Healthy: The Role of Dawa-Dawa in Contemporary Ghanaian Foodways,” which was published in Food, Culture & Society: An International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research

Ham’s article is an original and engaging analysis of the cultural politics of food production centered on the relationship between dawa-dawa and Maggi cubes in the Upper West. Rigorously researched, the article is also engagingly written and accessible to a broad audience. It offers a nuanced analysis of changing food culture in Ghana and has important policy implications.

Prize committee: Jeffrey Allman, Kwame Essien, Nate Plageman, and Melinda Adams (Chair)

[see previous winners of the prize here]