Week 3: African Urbanism- The Global City

Jessica Slade- 110232060

For the purposes of this week’s blog post, we were asked to read select chapters from the work entitled “Oxford Street Accra” by Ato Quayson. In combination, the Introduction, chapters 4-6 and the conclusion all proved to be very insightful. As a global scholar and a citizen of Ghanna, Quayson’s social location created meaningful paradigm as he is was able to construct a unique discourse through the sharing of this work.

The introductory section of this book raises important thought-provoking questions and provides a much-needed foundation to aid the reader’s historical knowledge of Accra. Quayson posed the questions best when he asked,

“How does one keep focused on the mundane and the apparently ephemeral and from this construct a viable understanding of the African city?  More pressingly, how does one tie these passing quotidian features to questions of historicity, transition, and agency, all three of which cannot be escaped if a proper counter-discursive corrective is to be made against the current crisis-management understandings?” (Quayson’s Blog, 2009)

These questions in many ways became the base to which Quayson wrote about and studied Oxford Street in Accra. After reading the above stated inquiries and completing this week’s required text, do you believe that Quayson adequately developed new ways around the past methods that were used to study Accra? Do you think that studying the social and urban history of Accra from a single street is the best way to get a sense of the development that has occurred, or would you do it differently?

“Chapter 4: The Beautyful Ones” focuses on the distinct themes of transportation and mobility, the place and role of advertising within the streets of Accra. Quayson raises interesting points regarding the creation of delocalized campaigns that are designed to depict cosmopolitan desires. This representation is used to encourage locals to participate in business through the invoking of a particular lifestyle. While each campaign is designed from a place of strategy, it is interesting to review the statistics regarding the market size and the registered rates of consumer consumption. Quayson writes, “To put these figures in proper perspective it has to be recalled that the current population of Ghana is estimated and twenty-five million. With an overall subscriber base of 24,884,195, it is considered one of the fastest growing cell phone markets in Africa,” (Quayson, 2014, pg. 146). In reading this we can see the success story that is economically present in Ghana. In terms of the type of market in existence, we can see that it is a highly competitive, and rightfully so.

In the confirmation of these rates of contractual participation, were you surprised about the inherently Western influence that has been added to Ghanaian society? How do the rates of cellphone subscribers in this case compare to that of our own country? Do you think they compare, is it a globally felt generational shift towards dependence on technology?

“Chapter 5: Este loco, loco” explores the historical and cultural place of Salsa dancing in Accra and confronts the conversational narratives that have consumed the place of Ghanaian society since the emergence of the transnational Spanish inspirations. As someone who is not particularly familiar with cultural influences in Africa as a whole, I was surprised to see the emphasis and place of Salsa as a type of ‘lifestyle choice’ in Accra.Quayson writes about the instrumental and positive effect that the emergence of Salsa has had on the local people- in terms of communication, community building and a means of economic success for local business. Prior to engaging in this week’s material, did you realize the impact that globalization has had on the transformational history of Ghana? Do you think that the addition of Salsa dancing to the Ghanaian culture is an example of Western influential practices, why or why not? Consider the local movement that spread as community members became engaged on their own.

"Lonely Planet Publications: Photobook"

“Lonely Planet Publications: Photobook”


I went on to do further research and found that during the initial stages of writing this work Quayson was a contributing writer to “Arcade: Literature. The Humanities and the World”. This is a blog founded by Stanford University. Here Quayson wrote about his interpretations, emotions and larger themes that were all contributed to his book. I found this resource to be particularly helpful in creating a sense of clarity as to the types of questions that he was working to get answers to.

Feel free to check out the following link to the blog: http://arcade.stanford.edu/blogs/user/ato-quayson


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