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Nana Osei-Opare

Nana Osei-Opare

Assistant Professor of History
Email: koseiopare@fordham.edu
Office: Dealy Hall 639
Phone: 718-817-1114
Twitter Account: @NanaOseiOpare

Nana Osei-Opare (2019), Assistant Professor of History, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles. African History; Ghana; the Cold War; Political-Economy, Socialism, Labor, and Marxism; Race, Historiography, and Citizenship; Social, Diplomatic, and Intellectual History; Soviet Union; Black Internationalism. (Global)

Education

PhD in History, 2019 
University of California, Los Angeles

C.Phil, 2019 
University of California, Los Angeles

M.A. in History, 2011 
Stanford University

A.B. with honors in History, 2011
Stanford University

 

Research Interests

I am working on a manuscript tentatively titled, Socialist De-Colony: Soviet & Black Entanglements in Ghana’s Decolonization and Cold War Projects. Socialist De-Colony is the first monograph to unpack, rethink, and tie Ghana’s Cold War and political-economic projects within larger socialist and Marxist debates from multiple ideological and geographic vantage points. During this adventure, the Soviet Union played the part of both an ideological and economic enabler and barometer of what could and might be. Consequently, Socialist De-Colony is the first monograph to study systematically how Ghana-Soviet relations influenced, enabled, and disrupted Ghana’s twin socialist and decolonization projects. Unlike the Soviet, Yugoslavian, and Chinese socialist projects and visions, I argue that what made the Ghanaian project unique was its explicit attempts to decolonize and delink its economy and its political formation away from imperial and colonial powers and not the vague world capitalist economy. Socialist De-Colony argues that in the chaos of the Cold War and African decolonization, Ghanaians tried to forge a socialist state-capitalist society that would navigate the perils of fundamentally transforming a colonial economy and creating a new citizenry and African in the world. Ghana’s Cold War and socialist projects were contradictory and contested. The book’s title, “Socialist De-Colony,” underscores the reality that decolonization and the crafting of socialism were ongoing projects that were never complete, nor, perhaps, could they be. 

From my research, I have published two peer-reviewed articles: (1) “Uneasy Comrades: Postcolonial Statecraft, Race, and Citizenship, Ghana-Soviet Relations, 1957-1966,” in the Journal of West African History and (2) “‘If You Trouble a Hungry Snake, You Will Force It to Bite You’: Rethinking Postcolonial African Archival Pessimism, Worker Discontent, and Petition Writing in Ghana, 1957-66,” in the Journal of African History

“Uneasy Comrades” tells a new history of the Cold War, of Ghana’s early postcolonial foreign policy, and the formation of Ghana’s national identity through its diplomatic, economic, and migratory relationship with the USSR during Kwame Nkrumah’s government (1957–66). Through examining English and Russian sources from American, British, Ghanaian, and Russian archives, this article offers three arguments. First, by analyzing Soviet anxieties over its role in Ghanaian affairs, the article shows that Ghana significantly controlled the economic and diplomatic contours and pace of its relationship with the USSR. Second, that discourses of race and neocolonialism were more central to defining the terms of Ghana’s geopolitical positioning than the Cold War framework. Third, the virulent racism Ghanaians experienced in the United States and USSR helped forge a global Ghanaian national consciousness. The article illuminates an independent black state’s attempts to procure sovereignty against a white supremacist economic and political international order and calls for Cold War scholars to engage seriously with African archives alongside non-African ones to create more dynamic, representational historical accounts. 

“‘If You Trouble a Hungry Snake, You Will Force It to Bite You’” highlights  the value and importance of African archives in the construction of postcolonial African histories. First, I reject what I call ‘postcolonial African archival pessimism’: the argument that postcolonial African archives are too disorganized or ill-kept to be of much, if any, value in configuring postcolonial African histories. Second, primarily through petition and complaint letters, I examine how Ghanaian workers protested racist and abusive workplace environments, government malfeasance, stagnating wages, and unfair dismissals in Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana. These archival gems illuminate how workers made claims to and performances of citizenship and reminded the state of their importance, politically and practically, to building the Ghanaian project. From Ghanaian and British archives, I seek to complement histories that highlight the centrality of African workers — through their letters and feet — in articulating the contradictions and aspirations of postcolonial African states.

My work has been supported in part by the Office of the President of the University of California, Fulbright-Hays DDRA, UCLA International Institute, and Stanford University’s Hoover Institution Library and Archives. My work has also appeared in the Journal of West African History, Journal of African History, The Washington Post, Ufahamu: A Journal of African Studies, and Foreign Policy Magazine, amongst other places. 

I welcome inquiries from students interested in graduate research on African and Cold War History. 

You can follow me on Twitter at @NanaOseiOpare.

Courses Taught

Fall 2021 
HIST 1600: Understanding Historical Change: Africa
HIST 3946: African Economies and Humanitarianism 
HIST 4310: Africa, Race, and the Global Cold War

Spring 2022
HIST 5650: Approaches to Global, Transnational, & Intellectual Histories

Fall 2022
HIST 3946: African Economies and Humanitarianism 
HIST 4310: Africa, Race, and the Global Cold War
Hist 4111: Modern African Stories

I am also interested in doing one-on-one tutorials, supervising theses, and serving on dissertation committees with interested students. 

 

 

Selected Publications

Book Manuscript: 

Socialist De-Colony: Soviet & Black Entanglements in Ghana’s Decolonization and Cold War Projects, (under construction).


Peer-Reviewed Articles:

“Kwame Nkrumah’s Leninism Reappraised: Archival Silences & Black Marxist Intellectual Orbits,” Comparative Studies in Society and History (Revise-&-Resubmit)

“‘If You Trouble a Hungry Snake, You Will Force It to Bite You’: Rethinking Postcolonial African Archival Pessimism, Worker Discontent, and Petition Writing in Ghana, 1957-66,” Journal of African History 62(1)(2021).

“‘Uneasy Comrades: Postcolonial Statecraft, Race, and Citizenship, Ghana-Soviet Relations, 1957-1966,” Journal of West African History, 5(2) (Fall 2019), pp. 85-112. 

“Terrorism and Racism, Twin Sisters?” Ufahamu: A Journal of African Studies, Volume 39, Issue 1, January 2016, pp. 33-40.

“Communism and the Tutelage of African Agency: Revisiting Mandela’s Communist Ties,” Ufahamu: A Journal of African Studies, Volume 38 (1) (December 2014), pp. 69-90.

 
Book Reviews:

Marcello Musto, Another Marx: Early Manuscripts (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), History: Review of New Books, Vol. 49, No. 5, (September 2021), pp. 120-122.

The Quest for Scientific Equity in Postcolonial Ghana,” Abena Dove Osseo-Asare, Atomic Junction: Nuclear Power in Africa after Independence (Cambridge University Press, 2019), Journal of African History, Vol. 62, Issue 2, (July 2021), pp. 303-305.

Steven Friedman, Race, Class, and Power: Harold Wolpe and the Radical Critique of Apartheid in African Studies Quarterly, Volume 16, Issue 3-4. January 2017, pp. 193-195.
 
Barry Gilder, Songs & Secrets: South Africa from Liberation to Governance in Ufahamu: A Journal of African Studies, Volume 38, Issue 1, December 2014, pp 289-291.
 
Carmela Garritano, African Video Movies and Global Desires: A Ghanaian History in African Studies Quarterly, Volume 14, Issue 3, March 2014, pp. 128-129.


Other Publications:

Forthcoming, “Into the Pantheon,” Medical Anthropology Quarterly: International Journal for the Analysis of Health.

Ghanaian Racial Citizenship in the Soviet Union and U.S., 1957-1966,” History: The Journal of the Historical Association, December 21, 2021.

When It Comes to America’s Race Issues, Russia Is a Bogeyman,” Foreign Policy Magazine, July 6, 2020.

Around the world, America has long been a symbol of antiblack racism,” The Washington Post, June 5, 2020.

Books that I Teach,” Black Agenda Report Book Forum, December 11, 2019.  

“‘Mahama-OO!’ President John Mahama’s Woes,” The African Collective, August 25, 2014.
 
Securing Ghanaian Economic and Energy Independence and Prosperity,” The African Collective, June 19, 2014.
 
African Agency: Nelson Mandela and the South African Communist Party,” The African Collective, June 18, 2014.

Term-Limits for Winners and Losers: Constitutional Democracy & Republicanism,” The African Collective, April 21, 2014. 


Online Media, Podcast, and Print Appearances

The Ghana-Soviet Connexion with Nana Osei-Opare,” The Slavic Connexion, Center for Russian, East Eurasian Studies, and Eurasian Studies, University of Texas, Austin, April 12, 2021.

Starr FM, Ghanaian Radio Station, May 21, 2020

“Professor Exposes Students to Truths of African History,” The Fordham Ram, March 11, 2020.

Radio interview with “Black Agenda Radio,” February 5, 2020.

Podcast Interview with “A Correction: A Podcast,” December 24, 2019

Starr FM, Ghanaian Radio Station, Fall 2019.

Teaching Assistant Work Goes Beyond the Discussion Room,” Daily Bruin, May 10, 2016.

Curriculum Vitae

Available upon request.