Jean Allman wins the inaugural Boahen-Wilks Article Prize

GSA is proud to announce that the inaugural Boahen-Wilks Article Prize has been awarded to Jean Allman for her brilliant article “Phantoms of the Archive: Kwame Nkrumah, A Nazi Pilot Named Hanna, and the Contingencies of Postcolonial History-Writing,” which appeared in The American Historical Review in 2013.

In “Phantoms of the Archive” Allman takes the seemingly implausible appearance of the female Nazi pilot and Third Reich apologist, Hanna Reitsch, in Ghana as Kwame Nkrumah’s advisor on flight and gliding, to in her own words “think more critically and imaginatively about what we might term ‘Africa’s postcolonial archive,’ about the documentary record with which the continent’s postcolonial/national histories can and will be written.” Pushing back against the idea that our methodological contributions as Africanists to the discipline of history are primarily in the realms of the oral, the material, or the preformed, Allman delivers a tour de force analysis of the multi-sited, multivalent, yet highly fragmented, dispersed, and compromised nature of Ghana’s postcolonial archives to argue for the urgency of moving beyond the national archive to write national histories that are capable of accounting for how “matters of state,” could also be “matters of intimacy.”

Drawing on Ghana’s transnational shadow archive to trace Nkrumah’s relationship with Reitsch, Allman reveals the affective architecture of Nkrumah’s nation-building project and in the process gives us an entirely fresh and methodologically provocative way of writing postcolonial history.

 About the Prize

The GSA Boahen-Wilks Article Prize seeks to recognize and highlight cutting edge Ghana Studies scholarship that demonstrates the rigor, innovation, and dynamism that characterizes the work that we are all engaged in. We received a wide array of nominations from different fields, among them history, anthropology, sociology, political science, and economic history. We were delighted to see this range in terms of disciplinary orientation, and want to continue to encourage this kind of diversity in nominations, as well as to encourage nominations for interdisciplinary scholarship.

The competition was undoubtedly steep, but we agreed that the prize winner was emblematic of the kind of innovative and meticulous scholarship that is placing Ghana Studies at the forefront of, not only African Studies, but also of our respective disciplines, while also opening up new avenues of enquiry within the field of Ghana Studies itself.

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Jean Allman (3rd from left) with members of the selection committee









The Selection Committee

Carina Ray (Chair)

Nana Akua Anyidoho

Ben Talton

Ato Quayson

Akosua Adomako Ampofo