African Market Women

African Market Women

Seven Life Stories from Ghana
Gracia C. Clark
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 03/08/2010
Format: Paperback 32 b&w illus., 3 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-22154-4
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In these lively life stories, women market traders from Ghana comment on changing social and economic times and on reasons for their prosperity or decline in fortunes. Gracia Clark shows that market women are intimately connected with economic policy on a global scale. Many work at the intersection of sophisticated networks of transnational commerce and migration. They have dramatic memories of independence and the growth of their new nation, including political rivalries, price controls, and violent raids on the market. The experiences of these women give substance to their reflections on globalization, capital accumulation, colonialism, technological change, environmental degradation, teenage pregnancy, marriage, children, changing gender roles, and spirituality. Clark's commentary illuminates the complex historical and cultural setting of these deeply revealing lives.

Author Bio

Gracia Clark is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University Bloomington. She is author of Onions Are My Husband: Survival and Accumulation by West African Market Women and has edited several volumes dealing with gender and economic life in West Africa.


“In these illuminating life stories, women market traders from Ghana comment on changing social and economic times and on reasons for their prosperity or decline in fortunes, showing how market women are intimately connected with economic policy on a global scale.”

“Clark . . . offers intriguing insights into the lives of seven Akan women traders. . . . Recommended.”
 — Choice

“Overall, this is an excellent book: it will be useful in undergraduate teaching and makes an important contribution to our understanding of the richness and variety of women's lives in West Africa. ”
 — Journal of Africa

“Shows, in direct speech, how family, kinship, marriage and age/generation work together in a daily life which is shaped by political, demographic, cultural, and wholly accidental change in people's circumstances.”
 — Jane Guyer, Johns Hopkins University

“[This] book may be read as both a scholarly study and a collection of primary sources: accessible to a general reader, and likely to be of particular interest to students and scholars seeking knowledge about Ghana, women's studies, and/or African social history and economic life. For readers who are already familiar with Clark's first book, African Market Women will be a welcome and rewarding companion volume. July, 2010”
 — H-Africa, H-Net Reviews

“African Market Women is a wonderfully evocative compilation of seven life histories from Kumasi, Ghana, of women Gracia Clark encountered in the course of a lifetime of fieldwork with marketers and study of the anthropology of marketing.April 2012”
 — African Studies Review

“African Market Women provides a unique insider's view into the highly complicated workings of the West African commodities trade. Through the words of some of the market's most accomplished veterans, readers can see the daily efforts involved in distribution and marketing of some of Ghana's most essential household items.Vol. 43, no. 2, 2010”
 — Intl Jrnl. of African Historical Studies

“Provides rich and nuanced insight into a range of themes which are at the very heart of late colonial and postcolonial scholarship on Africa: globalization, gender and economic security, economic decline, structural adjustment, changes in family structure, urbanization, environmental degradation, new forms of spirituality, transnational migration, and the politics of memory.”
 — Jean Allman, Washington University

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Trading Lives
1. Abenaa Adiiya
Portrait: An Adventurer on the Road
Story: Patience and Pleading
2. Maame Kesewaa
Portrait: A Quiet Saver
Story: Someone Has Set Herself a Goal
3. Madame Ataa
Portrait: A Good Citizen
Story: A Man Would Marry You Properly
4. Amma Pokuaa
Portrait: A Market Daughter
Story: All of Them Depend upon Me
5. Auntie Afriyie
Portrait: A Shrewd Dealer
Story: If You Have Wisdom, You Can Do Many Jobs
6. Sister Buronya
Portrait: An International Observer
Story: If I Had Money, I Would Go
7. Maame Nkrumah
Portrait: A Grateful Sister
Story: She Has Cared For Me and My Children
Conclusion: Little by Little


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