Labour, Land and Capital in Ghana

Labour, Land and Capital in Ghana

From Slavery to Free Labour in Asante, 1807-1956

Gareth Austin


Hardback out of stock

An examination of the varied ways, outside and inside markets, in which Asante producers obtained labor, land and capital during the transformative era.
This is a study of the changing rules and relationships within which natural, human and man-made resources were mobilized for production during the development of an agricultural export economy in Asante, a major West African kingdom which became, by 1945, the biggest regional contributor to Ghana's status as the world's largest cocoa producer. The period 1807-1956 as a whole was distinguished in Asante history by relatively favorable political conditions for indigenous as well as [during colonial rule] for foreign private enterprise. It saw generally increasing external demands for products that could be produced on Asante land. This book, which fills a major gap in Asante economic history, transcends the traditional divide between studies of precolonial and of twentieth-century African history. It analyses the interaction of coercion and the market in the context of a rich but fragile natural environment, the central process being a transition from slavery and debt-bondage to hired labor and agricultural indebtedness. It contributes to the broad debate about Africa's historic combination of emerging 'capitalist' institutions and persistent "precapitalist" ones, and tests the major theories of the political economy of institutional change. It is written accessibly for an interdisciplinary readership.

Gareth Austin is a Lecturer in Economic History, London School of Economics and Political Science, and Joint Editor of the Journal of African History.

An e-book version of this title is available (9781580466363), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.

Table of Contents

Theories and Debates: Some Tools for Thinking about the History of Property and Markets in Asante and Beyond
Asante, 1807-1956: the State, Output and Resources
The Changing Relationship Between Inputs and Outputs, 1807-1956
Land Tenure, 1807-1896
The Mobilization of Labour, 1807-1896
Capital and Credit, 1807-1896
Factor Markets without Free Labour: The Nieboer Hypothesis and Asante Slavery and Pawnship, 1807-1896
Gender and Kinship Aspects of the Social Relations of Production, 1807-1896
Exploitation and Welfare: Class and 'Social Efficiency' Implications of the Property Rights Regime, 1807-1896
Why Was Prohibition So Long Delayed? The Nature and Motives of the Gradualism of the British 'Men on the Spot'
The Decline of Coerced Labour and Property in Persons in Practice: Change from Above and from Below in Colonial Asante, 1896-1950
Cocoa and the Ending of Labour Coercion, c. 1900-c. 1950
Land Tenure: What Kind of Transformation under Cash-Cropping and Colonial Rule?
Capital and Credit: Locking Farms to Credit
Free Labour: Family Workers, the Spread of Wage Contracts, and the Rise of Sharecropping
Land in a Tree-Farm Economy
Capital in a Tree-Farm Economy
Free Labour: Why the Newly Emerged Wage Regular Wage Contracts Were Eclipsed by Sharecropping


[Austin] is able to familiarize Africanists with important developments in economic history as well as combat the marginalization of African economic history that, like so much in African studies, has fallen victim to a preoccupation with contemporary problems. The result is a work that is as rich and diverse in its offerings as the rain forest environment that it describes. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW, 2006 [Roger Gocking]

This is an excellent work, a major contribution to literature on the kingdom of Asante, an African society that has in the last 25 years attracted more than its fair share of high-quality scholarship. --Larry Yarak, Associate Professor of History, Texas A&M University

Austin's book is a groundbreaking survey of Ghana's economic history, based upon an extraordinarily perceptive case study of Asante. It is painstakingly researched and combines a strong empirical base with highly relevant theoretical considerations of current models of institutional change. He has written what will surely become a classic in the field of African economic development. --Ivor Wilks, Professor Emeritus of History, Northwestern University

Long anticipated, Austin's account of the material conditions in which the ordinary Asante people of Ghana lived their lives is an exemplary retrieval of the past. All at once richly documented, theoretically sophisticated and persuasively argued, it is a major contribution to African studies and to the wider field of economic history. --T.C. McCaskie, Professor of Asante history, University of Birmingham, UK

The overwhelming impression left on the reader is one of awe. . . . The readability of the book matches the importance of the arguments made, and it makes without doubt a very substantial contribution to . . . our knowledge about the transformation of slave trade in the economies of [West] Africa in the nineteenth century. INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF SOCIAL HISTORY, 2006

Austin's economic history of the agricultural and labour patterns of pre-colonial and colonial central Ghana may be considered a magnum opus . . . it represents a crowning achievement and the product of many years of careful research and analysis. AFRICA: THE JOURNAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL AFRICAN INSTITUTE [Benjamin N. Lawrance]

Also in Series

Related Titles