Multiple modernities: Kitchens for an African elite

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14 Scopus citations


Meaning is inscribed in the material/built environment and this article considers the materiality of change in urban Africa, focusing particularly on the kitchens of a group of first-generation professionals from northern Ghana who have "made it" and now live in the suburbs of Accra, Ghana. In the hometown area, they live in or are surrounded by the architectural idiom of mud and wattle round huts, whereas in relocation, as these Ghanaians become "modern," they create modern housing designs. The new aesthetic is performative of their cosmopolitanism, as it speaks to their aspirations for new identities and status. At the same time, members of this new elite perpetuate old practices that are tied to an old materiality. To explore the change in identity and status that is embedded in design, and the accommodation of old and new practices, I focus on the change in the kitchen as it becomes representative of a supremely modern ideal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-81
Number of pages27
JournalHome Cultures
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Ghana
  • Kitchen
  • Materiality
  • Modernity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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