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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Memory, Heritage, and Cultural Display in the Former Colonial Port Cities of Elmina (Ghana) and Fort Kochi (India)

  • Author(s): Jeychandran, Neelima
  • Advisor(s): Nooter Roberts, Mary
  • et al.

This dissertation discusses how residents, governments, and the international community continue to transform and recast two colonial port cities, Elmina in Ghana and Fort Kochi in India, as heritage sites and museums in order to represent particular histories. These sites act as repositories of memory, venues for community rituals, spaces for exhibitions, and backdrops for artistic productions. This exploration of these ports demonstrates the continued relevance and resonance of colonial heritage in postcolonies and exposes how knowledge of colonialism are produced and disseminated through the media of heritage and museums.

Elmina and Fort Kochi are ideal case studies in part because of their similar historical trajectories, but principally because of their parallel contemporary existences. Both of these towns have been reconstituted as heritage destinations and are now exhibitionary landscapes with multiple museums, heritage homes, and archeological ruins. Furthermore, both are venues for recurring cultural performances and festivals. Their urban landscapes simultaneously exhibit colonial struggles, modern aspirations, and postcolonial predicaments. By analyzing the revitalization of history in Elmina and Fort Kochi, I show how these cities function as alternative archives that harbor submerged narratives of migration and cultural exchange through unique modes of museum display, both within and beyond the walls of the gallery spaces.

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