Cover image for Chiefs know their boundaries : essays on property, power, and the past in Asante, 1896-1996
Chiefs know their boundaries : essays on property, power, and the past in Asante, 1896-1996
Berry, Sara.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Portsmouth, NH : Heinemann ; Oxford : J. Currey ; Cape Town : D. Philip, [2001]

Physical Description:
xxxix, 226 pages : maps ; 25 cm.



Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DT507 .B47 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ

On Order



Using a series of local episodes and case histories, the essays in this volume explore changes and continuities in the ways people have made and exercised claims on land in Asante, Ghana, during the colonial and postcolonial periods. Convinced that customary rules and rulers provided a stable foundation for colonial rule, British officials decided early on that ownership of the land was vested in Asante chiefs. As land values rose, due to urban expansion and the growth of commercial agriculture, mining, and timber, struggles intensified not only over land and land-based income, but also over the meaning of "custom" and its relevance to the colonial order. As claims on land multiplied, so too did debates over the scope of chiefly authority and jurisdiction, and the meaning of historical precedents for contemporary claims to land and office. Although postcolonial Ghanaian governments have legislated sweeping reductions in the scope of chiefly authority and customary law, most land in Asante remains subject to multiple, overlapping claims and continued debate.

Author Notes

Sara S. Berry is Professor of History and Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University.

Table of Contents

Illustrationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Abbreviationsp. xv
Introductionp. xvii
1 Elusive Boundaries: Rent-Seeking, Land, and Citizenship in Early Colonial Asantep. 1
2 Unsettled Accounts: Stool Debts, Chieftaincy Disputes, and the Question of Asante Constitutionalismp. 35
3 Who Owns Kumase?p. 63
4 On the Suburban Frontier: Stories of Dispossession, Development, and Indirect Democracyp. 103
5 Migrants, Tomatoes, and History: Negotiating Family, Land, and Citizenship in Kumawup. 139
6 Battles for the Afram Plainsp. 163
Conclusionp. 195
Appendix Interviewsp. 203
Bibliographyp. 209
Indexp. 221