The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced, recently, that it has awarded a fellowship to Nate Plageman, associate professor of history, to support his completion of a book currently titled “State Planning and City Life in Western Ghana, 1900-1970.” His was one of 74 fellowships for 2018 announced by the NEH.
According to the NEH, fellowships support individuals pursuing advanced research that is of value to humanities scholars, general audiences, or both. Recipients usually produce articles, mongraphs, books, digital materials, archaeological site reports, translations, editions, or other scholarly resources in the humanities.
Plageman said the book he is writing “is a longitudinal study of Sekondi-Takoradi, a small coastal settlement that became the West African nation of Ghana’s principal port and first ‘planned city.'”
“I am deeply honored to receive an NEH Fellowship,” Plageman said. “With its support, I hope to help people see how present-day urban environments, including Sekondi-Takoradi, are contested settings with long histories. This is particularly important in regards to African cities, which are often characterized as “chaotic” locales that have failed to develop on pace with their non-African counterparts.”
Plageman added that stereotypes about Africa and Africans have played a part in making “it too easy to ignore how past efforts to ‘develop’ them have gone awry or even led to conditions that subsequent planning efforts sought to fix. More importantly, it prevents us from thinking about the aspirations and efforts of ordinary people and the ways in which they have actively made—not passively occupied—the urban landscapes in which they live.”