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Decolonizing the MapCartography from Colony to Nation$
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James R. Akerman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226422787

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226422817.001.0001

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Uncovering the Roles of African Surveyors and Draftsmen in Mapping the Gold Coast, 1874—1957

Uncovering the Roles of African Surveyors and Draftsmen in Mapping the Gold Coast, 1874—1957

(p.205) Chapter Five Uncovering the Roles of African Surveyors and Draftsmen in Mapping the Gold Coast, 1874—1957
Decolonizing the Map

Jamie McGowan

University of Chicago Press

In the lead-up to Ghana’s independence in 1957, British colonial institutions were forced to yield to Ghanaian political agendas and interests. However, the new nation was also marked by many colonial inheritances. Colonial-era maps, surveying agendas, institutions, and practices were among these legacies. Many postcolonial surveyors and cartographers maintained a sensibility about their work similar to that of their colonial predecessors. They viewed mapmaking as essentially apolitical in nature. To understand these cartographic inheritances, this chapter pursues the ways that local Africans became surveyors and draftsmen and contributed to the mapping practices that supported the emergence and development of the colony. It also examines local surveyors’ and draftsmen’s training, opportunities, and perspectives on colonial Survey Department practices, illuminating the continuities and subtle changes as the colony moved toward independence. Pursuing these themes, this chapter reveals the fundamental importance of Africans as key actors in colonial mapping and surveying. Second, I argue that the persistence of colonial-era mapping practices was possible in part because of the engagement of African surveyors in these scientific techniques. Finally, this study exposes the workings of a colonial governmentality, in which surveyors carry forward their technical practices but distance themselves from their work’s political nature.

Keywords:   cartography, Ghana, colonialism, independence, Africans, surveying, governmentality, mapping practices

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