Memory and Belonging in an African Family
Published by: Indiana University Press
What keeps a family together? In Imagining Futures, authors Carola Lentz and Isidore Lobnibe offer a unique look at one extended African family, currently comprising over five hundred members in Northern Ghana and Burkina Faso.
Members of this extended family, like many others in the region, find themselves living increasingly farther apart and working in diverse occupations ranging from religious clergy and civil service to farming. What keeps them together as a family? In their groundbreaking work, Lentz and Lobnibe argue that shared memories, rather than only material interests, bind a family together.
Imagining Futures explores the changing practices of remembering in an African family and offers a unique contribution to the growing field of memory studies, beyond the usual focus of Europe and America. Lentz and Lobnibe explore how, in an increasingly globalized, postcolonial world, memories themselves are not static accounts of past events but are actually malleable and shaped by both current concerns and imagined futures.
1. Celebrating Home and Family Unity
2. Remembering the Ancestors
3. Constructing an Ancestral Heritage
4. Keeping the Home Fires Burning
5. Creating a New Order
6. Social Mobility and Moral Obligations
7. Urban Nostalgia for Ancestral Traditions
8. Making a Good Name for the Family
9. Stemming the Tide of Dispersal
10. Unfinished Business
Memory makes family, and vice versa – this is the intriguing insight unfolded in this unusual book. Grounded in a longstanding collaboration, Carola Lentz and Isidore Lobnibe trace the practices of remembering, forgetting and silencing through which their vibrant, trans-national Dagara family mediates its past. A well-crafted, sparkling account that unravels not only how colonialism and conversion to Catholicism shaped the lives and relations of its ancestral members, but also how the family organizes belonging and togetherness in our time.~Birgit Meyer, Utrecht University
Imagining Futures makes an extremely important contribution to scholarship in a range of fields, particularly Anthropology and African Studies. It expertly demonstrates how family relationships have been integral to forging pathways of survival and, for a few, accumulation in Northern Ghana. But they also provide a subtle understanding of how the definitions of 'family' have shifted, providing perspicacious analysis of some of the changes in who is included and excluded in the particular techniques and strategies of 'kinning' for this family under study.~Blair Rutherford, author of Farm Labor Struggles in Zimbabwe: The Ground of Politics.
Imagining Futures is a compelling and beautifully written multi-generational saga of a remarkable family that is at once a unique contribution to African history and a rare longitudinal study of kinship. It will be widely read and admired.~Michael Lambek, University of Toronto