Jazz Ghana: Historical Perspectives, Transnational Routes, Space, and Sustainability


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




A key tenet in the field of jazz studies since the 1980s has been the demystification of the myth that jazz is uniquely American. Building on this anti-essentialist jazz narrative, this project explores Ghanaian jazz discourses, practices, and histories as culturally and politically charged arenas within which notions of Black diasporic solidarity, cultural sustainability, decolonial epistemologies, and cosmopolitan imaginaries are nurtured and articulated. This project draws from a combination of archival resources as well as ethnographic interviews conducted with jazz musicians, fans, club owners, journalists, and cultural institutions in Ghana in order to challenge the canonical understandings of jazz history and development, which is often characterized by an ideology of exclusion that minimizes or ignores jazz practices beyond America’s borders. While Ghana is the primary field of investigation, this project also takes a transnational approach to understand how wider musical networks in Britain and United States have impacted Ghanaian jazz.