Boahen-Wilks Prize

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.



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)



The inaugural prize in 2015 was won by Jean Allman for her article “Phantoms of the Archive: Kwame Nkrumah, A Nazi Pilot Named Hanna, and the Contingencies of Postcolonial History-Writing,” which was published in The American Historical Review in 2013.


2015 and 2016 BWP winners–Jean Allman and Ebony Coletu

For the 2016 prize, we received a total of 11 nominations.  We were pleased to receive papers from history, anthropology, art history, sociology, political science, international relations and safety science and want to continue to encourage this kind of diversity in nominations, as well as to encourage nominations for interdisciplinary scholarship.

The competition was keen and our discussions lively, but we agreed that the winning article is emblematic of the kind of innovative and meticulous scholarship that is placing studies on Ghana at the forefront of African Studies as well as within the respective disciplines we represent in GSA.

The GSA is proud to announce that the 2016 Boahen-Wilks Article Prize has been awarded to Ebony Coletu and Kendra Field for their co-authored piece, “The Chief Sam Movement, A Century Later”, in Transition, No. 114, Gay Nigeria (2014), pp. 108-130.

This eloquently written and methodologically innovative article brings Ghana studies into a broader discussion on historical methods, the history of African American migration to Africa, family histories, and historical memory.  It breaks new ground in the study of the early twentieth-century back to Africa movement by offering a fresh take on Chief Alfred Sam’s African movement, which has been understudied and overshadowed by the literature on Marcus Garvey, and, secondly, by bringing pan-African activism in the Gold Coast and the Diaspora very concretely into one analytic space. By widening their investigative lens beyond Chief Sam to include those who hosted, traded, and otherwise interacted with members of the movement in West Africa, Africans emerge as engaged participants in the immigration question rather than as passive bystanders acted upon by diasporic Africans.  The rich and compelling narrative, including first-person descriptions by the authors, demonstrates the capacity for intellectually charged articles that remain accessible to a broad readership.

In recognition of this award, Indiana University Press, publishers of Transition, have made available the full article at

In 2016, an honorable mention was given to a close runner-up: Cati Coe and Serah Shani’s, “Cultural Capital and Transnational Parenting: The Case of Ghanaian Migrants in the US” in the Harvard Educational Review Vol. 85 No. 4, Winter 2015.

Coe and Shani collaborate to produce a well-researched and carefully-analysed article that explores the experiences of Ghanaian immigrant families negotiating community building, education, and culture in the U.S. and in Ghana. Significantly, the authors take familiar narratives about transnational parenting and problematize and extend a seminal concept in sociology; they argue convincingly that cultural capital is not the preserve of the economically privileged, and that its form and value can change over time and geography.

Prize Committee:  Akosua Adomako Ampofo (Chair), Ben Talton, Carina Ray, and Nana Akua Anyidoho