Cultural differences and urban spatial forms: Elements of boundedness in an accra community

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24 Scopus citations


In this article, I expand on Coquery-Vidrovitch's observation (1991) that to understand each African urban milieu, we must view it as more than a fusion of European, American, or traditional culture. Rather, we must see each African city as unique, that is, in fact, internally differentiated, containing a multitude of enclaves that vary one from another in their respective social, physical, and architectural spatial forms. I focus on one community in Accra known as Sabon Zongo. Founded by migrant Hausa from northern Nigeria almost a century ago, it is neither typically southern Ghanaian nor Hausa, having adapted to a mixed cultural milieu. Laid out by the British as part of their town plan, its manner of growth has blurred the original scheme. I examine a number of components that define the uniqueness of this particular urban community, including physical delineations (within Sabon Zongo and between it and the city at large), local knowledge, the landscape, the infrastructure, market and street trade, and centripetal socio-spatial structures such as the family compound.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-75
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Anthropologist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2001


  • Ghana
  • Social-spatial linkage
  • Zongo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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