Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

History

Sub-Department

College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Allison Marsh

Abstract

The historical understanding of a place is bent to the will of the passage of time, but is susceptible to the pressures of entities that lay claim to the space. The memory of forts and castles dispersed along the tropical shorelines of Ghana have been remembered, forgotten, and rediscovered several times over the span of five centuries. But how has their story been changed? What is privileged and created for the collective memory and what has been concealed? The buildings currently serve as memorials to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, but this understanding is complicated by the previous preservation motives and interpretations which impacted the interpretation, and therefore the collective memory, of the forts and castles. Through an examination of the institutional motivations, the changing political atmospheres, and the narratives crafted and told, the evolution of the interpretation of the buildings from the emphasis on European architectural deeply researched by the British colonial government, the post-colonial stress on the Afro-European equitable trade, to transnational transformation of the buildings into memorials to the trans-Atlantic slave trade can be determined. An examination of the development of the narrative surrounding the buildings offers a long history of the preservation of the forts and castles. But it also illuminates the interesting ways interpretations created by twentieth century organizations charged with the preservation of the buildings complicate the already complicated trans-Atlantic interpretation of the forts and castles of Ghana.

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