Pickpockets, pilot boys and prostitutes: The construction of juvenile delinquency in the Gold Coast [Ghana], 1929-57
Journal of West African History
Michigan State University Press
Copyright © 2018 by Michigan State University. This Article originally appeared in Journal of West African History Vol. 4, Iss. 2, 2018, pages 47-74.
Reason for embargo
Under embargo until 08 November 2019 in compliance with publisher policy.
In twentieth-century Gold Coast youth offending became a metonymy for wider concerns about the impact of urbanization and colonial modernity. Urbanization, migration, unemployment, poverty, the disintegration of family and tribal structures, and Western culture were all blamed for the emergence of delinquency. This article analyzes changing constructions and treatment of delinquency from c.1929-57, drawing on contemporary sociological research, popular culture and metropolitan debates, as well as archival material from Prisons, Welfare and Probation departments in Accra. Whilst in other parts of West Africa, fears about delinquency focused on gangs and violence, the main categories of delinquency in the Gold Coast were: theft; ‘immoral’ offences; intelligent offenders and proto-criminals; and ‘care and protection’ cases. Rehabilitation was marked by a constant tension between punishment, reform, and the construction of economically-productive colonial citizens. Juvenile delinquency formed a significant and symbolic part of the disciplinary techniques, discourses and institutions of the late-colonial state.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from JSTOR via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 4 (2), pp. 47-74.