Jeffrey Ahlman is an assistant professor of History at Smith College, where he specializes in African political, social, and cultural history. He earned his BA in History from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and his MA and PhD in History from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the recipient of a number of grants and fellowships from organizations including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Johns Hopkins University Center for Africana Studies, the University of Virginia’s Carter G. Woodson Institute, the Council on Library and Information Resources, the American Historical Association, and the West African Research Association.
His first book, Living with Nkrumahism: Nation, State, and Pan-Africanism in Ghana, focuses on the transnational politics of pan-Africanism and global socialism in mid-twentieth-century Ghana and the popular reactions to it, particularly concerning issues of gender, generation, and work in the early postcolonial state. The book is part of Ohio University Press’s New African Histories series.
He is currently working on two book projects. The first project is a history of modern Ghana. Primarily focused on the mid-nineteenth century to the present, this book, currently titled Ghana: A Modern History, deviates from more conventional national histories of Ghana—as well as those of other countries—as it narrates the country’s relatively recent past through an interlocking set of political, social, cultural, and economic networks of belonging and self-identification.
His other current book-length project, which is tentatively titled “Nkrumah Never Dies”: History, Culture, and the Power of Postcolonial Afterlives, interrogates the interaction between the material and spiritual worlds in rethinking Ghanaians’ relationships to Ghana’s first generation of postcolonial leaders in the last several decades of Ghanaian history. In doing so, this project aims to detail how, for many Ghanaians, the imagery of an Nkrumah now among the ancestors often embeds itself in deep-seated struggles over the so-called “spirit” of the nation in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
In addition to these larger projects, he has published essays on postcolonial Ghanaian state-citizenry relations, pan-Africanism, and African transnational networks in journals including the Journal of African History, Africa Today, Ghana Studies, Kronos: Southern African Histories, and the International Journal of African Historical Studies. He is also a member of the African Studies Association, American Historical Association, Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora, Ghana Studies Association, West African Research Association, and the Africa Network.