An Emerging Middle Class, Changing Mortuary Practices, and a New Funeral Economy in Northern Ghana

My current research project looks at recent dramatic changes to funerals among the Dagara of northwestern Ghana. Funerals in Africa more generally have been noted as enabling members of an extended family to come together to reaffirm their membership in the wider family and also compete for social prestige. Building on the works of scholars who have explored the cultural and socio-political dimension of mortuary rites, my work explores the transformation of these ritual occasions. Because of broad socio-economic forces such as outmigration in search of labor, increased social mobility because of expanded access to western style education, amplifying interactions with other regions in Ghana, conversion to Catholic Christianity, and the exposure to new discourses of modernity, inhabitants’ daily experiences have been markedly reshaped. Understanding the new ways in which they organize their funerals and mourn the deceased offers fresh insights into these issues, and in particular into the experience of upward mobility and ‘middle classness’.

Project leader(s):
  • Isidore Lobnibe (Department of Anthropology, Western Oregon University)

Leave a Reply