The Perception of Abnormality in Kasena and Nankani Infants

Clarifying Infanticide in Northern Ghana

Albert K. Awedoba and Aaron R. Denham


While the scholarship of health researchers working in the Upper East Region of Ghana concentrates on the epidemiological and demographic factors affecting child health and child rights advocates focus on child labour, sexual abuse, neglect, and forms of abuse, few scholars have explored infanticide practices, such as the spirit child phenomenon, that are reported to occur in the region. This article, based on ethnographic research, addresses this gap by offering a description of the spirit child phenomenon. By presenting the spirit child as a form of discourse and as an infanticide practice, the article demonstrates how the spirit child is ultimately connected to local moral worlds, personhood, and concerns about the family and its perpetual continuity.

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