Dr. Isidore Lobnibe Presents at Western
Associate professor of anthropology discusses the electoral politics belonging in Ghana
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 17:05
As part of the Social Science Symposium Series, associate professor of anthropology Dr. Isidore Lobnibe gave a presentation on electoral politics and the politics of belonging in Ghana.
Entitled “The Northern Ghanaian Immigrant Factor in Brong Electoral Politics and the Politics of Belonging in Ghana,” Lobnibe’s discussion took place on May 7 in the Health and Wellness Center.
According to the division chair of social sciences and history professor, Dr. John Rector, the Social Science Symposium is an opportunity for social science faculty members to share papers on themes from their research or on information from their courses with other faculty members and students. It is also open to the general public.
“As faculty, we do not know what our colleagues are doing because we do not go into their classrooms, but this is an opportunity for us to get to hear what they are interested in,” said Rector.
In addition, Lobnibe said, “Clearly any scholarly discourse that helps improve the understanding of the society and expand knowledge is important for the university community.”
Specifically in Lobnibe’s talk, it was displayed that while multiparty democracy is supposed to enhance democratic ideals and peaceful co-existence in Africa, there are tensions created from the struggle by members of certain localities or constituencies to exclude others from such benefits because they are not seen as members to stand for office or vote.
Some argue that there is hardly any social group or community in Africa today that has not felt the need for its members to collectively express their daily concerns in both civil and political fields because of the power to vote.
Therefore, Lobnibe highlighted that a new kind of politics in Africa, known as the politics of belonging, is triggering social tensions over the struggle on control of resources or political power. This creates a distinction between those citizens of a place who belong and those who belong less.
Overall, Rector said that there are conflicts that were “never anticipated when democracy came to Ghana in which people began fighting each other over whether a particular candidate was actually a legitimate candidate” for electoral positions. Their ancestry was not sufficiently ancient in that particular area, so others believed they should not be candidates.
It is essentially a matter of who has the right to represent the area.
Dr. Kit Andrews, who is an English professor and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ivory Coast in 1979 and 1980, revealed his experiences and their relations to Lobnibe’s discussion specifically on Ghana.
“When I was there, the country had a one-party political system and was an inviting place for immigrants,” Andrews said. “This was also a time of relatively very good prosperity for the Ivory Coast, so the immigrants helped contribute because a larger work force was needed. Later when the multi-party system began, an anti-immigrant movement also began that contributed to existing ethnic tensions and eventually to quite a costly series of civil wars.”
Thus, Lobnibe’s talk helped explain the dynamics of how an ideology of belonging could contribute to these sorts of tensions.
According to the Western website, Lobnibe studied anthropology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and he conducted his most recent field research among northern Ghanaian migrant farmers in villages of south-central Ghana.
“I love research and will continue to share my findings with the scholarly community. Moreover, my fieldwork has been supported by my division and faculty development, and it is in order that I make presentations. The questions and feedback you receive from colleagues help to enrich research findings,” said Lobnibe.
Lobnibe also gave an extended version of the presentation at the University of Oregon on May 10 as part of the Oregon African Studies Consortium Series.