I am attending Nordic Geographers’ Meeting #NGM2017

On Sunday, I’ll be in Stockholm for the 7th Nordic Geographers’ Meeting. I am excited to be presenting my work to a completely new audience – geographers, and a wider audience of social scientists – as I usually meet with Africa scholars or Migration scholars. The theme is “geographies of inequalities” which is almost a perfect topic to capture student migration out of the global South.

At the meeting, I hope to:

  • get some new ideas on how to take my work to the next level (Where do I publish?  What are others doing on students and migration?) and
  • pick up some clues on how I continue to do relevant interdisciplinary research. (What methods should I use?  Who can I collaborate with? Who else is interested in my work?)

I’ll be presenting two papers out of my dissertation research for the following two panels:

Session A3: Youth and Inequality: Perceptions, experiences, and aspirations. (PDF details)

Conveners: Prof. Katherine Gough of Loughborough University and Dr. Thilde Langevang of Copenhagen Business School.

Session description
Rising unemployment and sluggish economic growth are widely predicted to further widen income and wealth inequality worldwide. Young people, in particular, are being disproportionately affected with the OECD claiming that youth have replaced the elderly as the group experiencing the greatest risk of income poverty. This has widespread implications for the opportunities and constraints young people face as well as impacting on their aspirations for the future.This session will bring together papers which explore how young people’s lives and aspirations are being influenced by the inequality they experience and imagine both in situ and in faraway places. Papers are welcome from societies across the globe where young people are being affected by real or perceived high levels of inequality. Topics which may be explored in the session include, but are not restricted to, the implications of rising inequality at a range of scales for young people’ perceptions, experiences and aspirations of: Mobility and immobility /Education and skills training/ Work experiences and job prospects/Housing and home

Here my paper “Migration aspirations among university students in Ghana” will discuss my choices to focus on university students and not youth in general as well as aspirations and intentions and not migration per se . I also will share some results from the survey I did with university students in Ghana, in particular looking at social backgrounds of students and their view of migration. (20/6/17 1.15-3.00 pm. Room: William Olsson, House Y)

Session J7: The Politics of Movement. (PDF details)

Conveners: Dr. Nancy Cook & Prof. David Butz, Brock University.

Session description
The politics of movement  entanglements of power, social inequality and mobilities – is an abiding preoccupation in social geography and critical mobilities studies. Both scholarly fields identify mobility as a fundamental structuring dimension of social life. They also demonstrate that the capacity for movement under conditions of one’s choosing is a valuable resource that is unequally distributed in social contexts structured by hierarchies of power. In other words, movement is socially differentiated; it reflects and reinforces structures of power to configure inequitable social hierarchies. Critical geographers and mobility scholars are tracing the ways in which relations of gender, race, class, sexuality and citizenship shape discourses and practices of mobility that produce beneficial movement for some people and too little or too much movement for others.

For this session, I will discuss some thoughts around what a global South student really is in relation to mobility in my paper “Conceptualizing academic mobility and mobility exclusions from a global South student perspective”. Based on the data I collected for my dissertation research I will suggest some trends in the politics of movement from a student point of view. (19/6/17 at 5.15-6.45 pm in Room: U26, House U)

I am also looking forward to keynotes, especially with Dr. Brenda S.A. Yeoh who has a distinct global South perspective in her work and meeting new friends – and at least one old! I want to thank my good friend Michael Boampong who sent me the initial info on this conference, and who is also attending the conference as well as and my department at Ashesi University which made this trip possible.

Hope to meet you at #NGM2017!

Summarizing the ASA2015

asa friendsSo, I am back from the intense African Studies Association 58th Annual Meeting in San Diego, California, US 19-21 November, 2015!

It is difficult to summarise such intense days, but I would say my main goals were met:

  1.  getting some feedback on my research. CHECK
  2. meeting with other researchers, both interested in Ghana and in migration and higher eduction. CHECK and some awesome, smart and funny ones that I think will remain friends for life!
  3. tweeting and Periscoping! CHECK, periscoped a convo on Afrobarometer and Prof Adomako Ampofo’s speech. Also used the nice conference app to share info within the conference!
  4. learning more about publishing and post-doc opportunities. CHECK, wrote some follow-up email today!
  5. finding books and initiatives in the exhibit that accompanies the conference. CHECK omg CHECK
  6. experiencing some art and maybe good food in the world-reknowned Balboa Park in San Diego. CHECK
  7. meeting up with other African Studies tweeps. CHECK

What I did not get to do was eating great hotel breakfast (the breakfast buffet was not included, shock of the trip!) or really see the city of San Diego as there was really no time.

What I did do that was not on my list was: challenge my fear of heights, both in Balboa Park and on the 12th floor of the nice hotel, and eat crickets! (Tangy, crunchy, and salty!)

 

Social Media for Yale Conference in Ghana: From Success to Significance

Photo: Frederick Sowah
Photo: Frederick Sowah

I am proudly the social media reporter for the conference From Success to Significance: Thought Leaders in the African Renaissance, starting tomorrow afternoon. The conference is organized by alumni of the prestigious Yale university in the Yale Club of Ghana. You can find the program for the conference here.

My expectations for the conference are high as almost all the names of speakers and panelists are “big” men and women here in Ghana and beyond. I am especially looking forward to the education and the technology panels, as well as writer Taiye Selasie, writer of “Ghana Must Go” that I just read. I am tasked to tweeting through out using the hashtag #YaleConfGH and write a summary blog post. Watch this space!

Does it sound interesting? Conference tickets sell for 225 USD with a big discount for students. Buy tickets here.

Migration and Development Conference in Accra

Tuesday and Wednesday, I went to a conference “Migration and Development: Opportunities and Challenges in a Globalized world”. It was a great experience in many ways – inspiration, networking and the personal growth that comes with sharing your work.

To me,  it is always inspiring to learn about research that is ongoing some favorite new aspects of migration involved gold scams in Ghana, changing migration patterns of unskilled labor to Accra (kayayeis, scrap collectors and others) and student migration out of the Congo finding new destinations.

The networking was superb – I met with many graduate students at University of Ghana – as migration naturally is interdisciplinary we never knew of each other! We have exchanged contacts and will meet up again soon. Also, in the main frame of the collage above, I met with a former lecturer to Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan!

Finally, the pressure that comes with synthesizing your work and presenting some aspect of it feels horrible, but I am convinced it is good for me. I presented a paper in progress about the migration policies of the north and their impacts on academe in the global south, naturally with a focus on Ghana.

Later this year, a publication from the conference will be put together. If my work meets the quality target (and I manage to submit in time), I will tell you  more!

See more of my photos from the conference here.

 

Goodbye Finland, Hello Ghana

I am back in Ghana after an intense week in Finland attending the Nordic Africa Days 2010 in Turku.

Finland was cold, filled with salmon sandwiches and interesting conversations. I took a lot of photos from the conference which I will share with you as soon as I have organized them.

Now I have to rush to work!

This Week: Finland

So this week will be a bit different.

I will go to Finland for a conference, Nordic Africa Days 2010 (you might remember I wrote on this conference here) . And you will feel lonely and come here for new updates from me and who knows if there will be any?

Since, I will be a bit busy with:

1. Presenting a paper on Student Mobility and Migration Industry.

2. Listening to African Studies high shots like Mahmood Mamdani and Paul Nugent as well as film director  Dani Koyaté and Ford Foundation’s Program Officer for East Africa, Joyce Nyairo.

3. Participating in a panel with the theme: “Mobility and Relocation as Strategies of  Youthful Resistance” led by Cultural Anthropologist and former University of Sierra Leone lecturer Mats Utas and political scientist and West and Central Africa expert Morten Bøås. Excited about this part!

4. Eating Cheese and bread!

5. Visiting five Finnish friends (although one is technically Brazilian!)

However, who knows, I might get time to spare and I am guessing free broadband is all over the country that recently decided to make broadband a human right

Pic of the Finnish flag borrowed from www.tgdaily.com

Conference Coming Up: Nordic Africa Days 2010

I am happy to announce I have an academic conference to attend!

As I am well familiar with the Uppsala bound Nordic Africa Institute ( at a point in time they were even my physical neighbors!) I was well informed about the yearly Nordic Africa Days, this year taking place in Turku, Finland. The Nordic Africa Days is a annual conference each year taking place in a Nordic country. For these conferences, young scholars and PhD candidates are especially encouraged to partake, so I was keeping an eye open… When I realized the theme for the conference was Time Space Africa: Reconnecting the Continent, and participants were to focus on “the changing conditions, positions and possibilities of the continent” I knew I had to submit  an abstract. I wrote one based on my research so far and it was accepted with a panel called “Mobility and relocation as strategies of youthful resistance”. I am to present my paper (which will be a reworked version of my PhD proposal with maybe a little empiry from a focus group I’d like to follow up on)  and actively take part of discussions within my panel.

I have been to conferences before (even crashed a few), but not as an active participant, presenting a paper of my own. I am excited about the opportunity and look forward to critique and input from other participants to make my research more profound.

Out of the key speakers I am especially looking forward to Professor Mahmood Mamdani‘s speech. Ugandan by birth, he is currently the Herbert Lehman Professor of Government in the Department of Anthropology and Political Science and the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and an academic writer I admire and often quote.

I also saw that Professor Paul Nugent will be a speaker. That could be interesting since he launched the web publication Critical African Studies last year (do read the pdf paper that defends the concept of Critical African Studies ) and was more than critical when he wrote this on conferences:

Let us be honest. Most modern academics are caught on a treadmill that prevents them
from thinking in a sustained way about what they are doing. Typically, a researcher presents a
paper at a conference at which (s)he is given all of ten minutes to outline the findings. A cursory
discussion then follows, and minds then turn to converting the paper into a publication before it is overtaken by other commitments. By their very nature, conference papers are often half-cooked, but the pressure to produce finished results means that while they might receive some light seasoning, they are often sent off with minimal changes.

I hope that Nugent’s presence will have an effect on this conference making the results more sustainable.

So, end of September I am off. Wish me luck!

>BarCamp Ghana ’09 is On

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So, now it’s official: I am making my BarCamp debut early next week! The Ghanaian version of this world wide “unmeeting” is taking place at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in East Legon, Monday the 21st December the whole day. See more information about the event here.

Although the strange name of this happening suggests something as scary as “camp”, I am still excited about the free meeting format and three more things.

1. It looks like ghanablogging will be holding a session about forming real life groups from online communities.

2. The organizing group this year are much more locally anchored compared to in 2008 when (it seemed like?) all organizers came from abroad.

3. The founder and president of Ashesi University, Patrick Awuah is giving the keynote address, and he is a very good speaker! As he is also my boss, that part of the BarCamp will be like a regular day at work…:-)

Hope to see some of you there!

>International Conference on African Culture and Development (ICACD)

>In two weeks, Accra hosts an interesting conference, 2nd International Conference on African Culture and Development, ICACD. The program can be found here.

The secretariat of the newly founded organization is placed in Ghana’s commercial hub, Kumasi and it was also there the first conference was held in 2008. A participant, Erica Borgstrom, published her reflections after that first meeting here. She writes:

The conference illustrated precisely how complex the idea of ‘Africa’ is whilst physically demonstrating how competing agendas affect this notion. The premise of ICACD is to be an ‘African Cultural advocate’ to influence policy, placing culture on the broader African development agenda. For its inaugural meeting, ICACD attracted an array of individuals with varying backgrounds and aspirations. Their differing agendas soon became apparent in presentations and discussions. Primarily, this resulted in the (often confusing) multiple and differing use of the word ‘culture’, consequently affecting their attitudes towards an implementation of ‘culture’ in ‘development’.

Africa is not one! Why an initiative like this will not start with the scope of West-Africa – or even Ghana – is beyond me. Because, just like for the AU, geographically broad initiatives that recognize no difference in agendas or set any rules for membership, become toothless.

The second item brought up in the quote above, I also found very interesting since I personally recognize this problem of defining ‘culture’. Being interested in the arts in Ghana, I have been confronted with this often conflicting of interpretations to ‘culture’ – two brought out by Borgstrom are 1) the touristic and sometimes stereotypical “traditional” culture including dancing and drumming and 2) the culture linked to how we choose to live our lives. And then I’d like to add the 3) culture involving all artistic expression, focusing on contemporary expressions, that Borgstrom does not discuss.

However, the issue is critical – what kind of development do we get if culture (whatever the definition might be) is not included? Also, I’m guessing the other executives (I’m the treasurer) of Accra Cultural and Arts Network (AccraCAN) will be there. So, I might steal time away from my regular job to go see if discussions have progressed since last year.

Pic: people and sculptures of people at a vernissage in August at the University of Ghana. Sculptures by the Ghanaian artist Kofi Setordji.