Alumni, Nana Amponsah, receives her Ph.D

Alumni, Nana Amponsah, successfully defended her dissertation titled, “Colonizing the Womb: Women, Midwifery, and the State in Colonial Ghana” receiving her Ph.D. The committee was chaired by Prof. Toyin Falola, A Distinguished Teaching Professor and the Frances Higginbotham Nalle Centennial Professorship. Dr. Amponsah’s area of specialization is in African history, south of the Sahara and in world history with additional areas of expertise in women and gender studies, reproductive health, oral history, and African Diaspora studies.
In her dissertation, she explored the reproductive transformations that occurred during the colonial period in Ghana as well as the ways in which the British colonial government initiated measures to render women’s reproduction under its control. Her argument stated that the colonial government selected women’s reproduction as a site of intervention because they thought of it as an easier avenue to reconstruct the society, exploit the economic resources of the country, and entrench their political dominance without attracting political agitation and social unrest. What she demonstrates is that while the government’s efforts at colonizing the maternal did disrupt the social management of pregnancy and childbirth, it did not result in the colonization of women’s reproduction because Ghanaian mothers initiated counter strategies to the colonial imposition on their reproductive functions by ignoring the maternal and infant welfare centers, relying on native midwives, and changing the colonial government’s focus of providing preventive healthcare to providing curative healthcare. This study is particularly important in the ways in which it engages different mediums such as gender, education, health, medicine, sexualities, and healing to provide understanding of the colonial encounter between women and colonial rule. Again, it shows that contesting the colonial presence and imposition did not only occur through the platforms of nationalism and anti-colonial resistance movements, but through the kitchens and backyards of ordinary women going about their daily activities.

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