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"Ruled by Our Own People": Ghanaian Adolescents' Conceptions of Citizenship


by Linda S. Levstik & Jeanette Groth 2005

This study investigates the ways in which 150 Ghanaian junior secondary students negotiate the tensions between ethnic and national history in building conceptions of democratic citizenship. While unofficial histories operate in Ghana, and some of these may be oppositional, the students in this study do not describe their own or others' ethnic histories as in opposition to official histories. In contrast to official histories in other national settings, ethnic history in Ghana appears as an important building block in the national narrative. Students describe a national story of subjugation, struggle, and sacrifice that not only establishes the need for unity (and the consequences of disunity) and the value of diversity (and the consequences of interethnic conflict) but inclines students to honor multiple identities, search for unifying elements that might be carried into the present and future, and perceive their conationals as capable of bravery, persistence, and self-rule. At the same time, historical study did not appear to incline students toward the kind of critical historical analysis envisioned by Ghanaian curriculum planners.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 107 Number 4, 2005, p. 563-586
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11813, Date Accessed: 10/23/2017 11:03:44 AM

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About the Author
  • Linda Levstik
    University of Kentucky
    E-mail Author
    LINDA S. LEVSTIK is Professor of Social Studies Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Kentucky. Her research focuses on the sociocultural contexts for developing historical thinking in children and adolescents in national and cross-national settings.
  • Jeanette Groth
    University of Kentucky
    JEANETTE GROTH is a doctoral student at the University of Kentucky working in Ghana as an education advisor for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana. Her research focuses on citizenship and democracy in the African context of Ghana.
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