Managing the Pan-African Workplace

Discipline, Ideology, and the Cultural Politics of the Ghanaian Bureau of African Affairs, 1959–1966

Jeffrey S. Ahlman


The Bureau of African Affairs remains one of the most controversial institutions of Nkrumah-era Ghana, with scholars and others connecting it to such activities as the Soviet arms trade, espionage, and even assassination. This article offers an alternative analysis: one rooted in the institution’s status as a workplace. It examines the development of a work regime whereby Bureau administrators and party officials transformed seemingly banal workplace contestations over leave, pay scale, and workplace technologies into national and transnational debates over national productivity, state and institutional security, and social and ideological discipline. Moreover, the article argues, these inter-office debates spoke to and accentuated established gender, generational, and class anxieties associated with the changing nature of urban work life in Nkrumah-era Ghana.

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