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Imagining Architecture: The Structure of Nationalism in Accra, Ghana

Summary of Article by Janet Berry Hess, 2000

Using the commissioned statue of Nkrumah as an example of a constructed image and a national ideal, the essay engages a specific characteristic of the postcolonial era. Hess navigates a multifaceted and complex construction of identity in order to examine the history of architecture and spatial organization in Accra. This is achieved by placing the British colonial efforts to segregate and regulate space and the Nkrumah administrations reconfiguration of colonial objectives in contention, to reveal a construction of a distinctive notion of nationhood. Beginning with the expansion of the city of Accra under colonial administration, shaped by the existing pattern of the coastal settlement, the essay explores colonial regulation and a potential structure of nationalism that allied the heroicized image of Nkrumah with a culturally homogeneous notion of place. It serves as a demonstration of how the architecture in Accra suggests an identification of architectural monuments with a consciously managed national ideal.