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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Red Star State: State-Capitalism, Socialism, and Black Internationalism in Ghana, 1957-1966

  • Author(s): Osei-Opare, Kwadwo
  • Advisor(s): Apter, Andrew H.
  • et al.
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"The Red Star State" charts a new history of global capitalism and socialism in relation to Ghana and Ghana’s first postcolonial leader, Kwame Nkrumah. By tracing how Soviet connections shaped Ghana’s post-colonial economic ideologies, its Pan-African program, and its modalities of citizenship, this dissertation contradicts literature that portrays African leaders as misguided political-economic theorists, ideologically inconsistent, or ignorant Marxist-Leninists. Rather, I argue that Nkrumah and Ghana’s postcolonial government actively formed new political economic ideologies by drawing from Lenin’s state-capitalist framework and the Soviet Economic Policy (NEP) to reconcile capitalist policies under a decolonial socialist umbrella. Moreover, I investigate how ordinary Africans—the working poor, party members, local and cabinet-level government officials, economic planners, and the informal sector—grappled with and reshaped the state’s role and duty to its citizens, conceptions of race, Ghana’s place within the Cold War, state-capitalism, and the functions of state-corporations. Consequently, "The Red Star State" attends both to the intricacies of local politics while tracing how global ideas and conceptions of socialism, citizenship, governmentality, capitalism, and decolonization impacted the first independent sub-Saharan African state. The dissertation remaps and reimagines the global circuits of Africans, the African diaspora, and nationalism, and merges the intellectual and geographic circuits of Paul Gilroy’s “black Atlantic” and Maxim Matusevich’s “Africa and the Iron Curtain” and illustrates how they transformed each other. The dissertation draws on two to three years of English and Russian archival research in multiple sites and sources in Ghana, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

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This item is under embargo until June 3, 2021.