African Archaeological Review

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 203–231 | Cite as

Gendered Taskscapes: Food, Farming, and Craft Production in Banda, Ghana in the Eighteenth to Twenty-first Centuries

  • Amanda L. LoganEmail author
  • M. Dores Cruz
Original Article


This article blends insights from gender, technology, and development studies with Ingold’s concept of taskscape to examine the interrelated nature of farming, food, and craft manufacture practices in Banda, Ghana during the last three centuries. We begin by comparing two ethnoarchaeological studies that were conducted separately by the authors, one that focused on food, and the other on ceramic production, preparation, and consumption. We use these data to analyze gendered taskscapes and how they have changed in recent decades with the introduction of new technologies and major economic and environmental shifts. Building on such insights, we analyze how taskscapes shifted in earlier centuries in Banda through archaeological remains of food and craft practice at the eighteenth- to twentieth-century site of Makala Kataa. Craft production cannot be fully understood without reference to food production, preparation, and consumption; thus, viewing these practices as interrelated tasks in a gendered taskscape yields insight into the rhythms of everyday life and highlights women’s often undervalued skills.


Gender Taskscape Technology Agriculture Food Pottery Ethnoarchaeology Ghana 


Dans cet article, nous combinons des idées qui sont fondées sur des études sur le genre, la technologie et le développement, en utilisant le concept de taskscape créé par Ingold, et en examinant l’interdépendance de l’agriculture, de l’alimentation et des pratiques d’artisanat mises en place à Banda, au Ghana, depuis trois siècles. Nous comparons deux cas ethno-archéologiques effectués séparément par leurs auteurs, qui discutent la production de nourriture et la production de poterie, leur préparation et leur utilisation, respectivement. Nous nous servons de ces données ethno-archéologiques pour analyser des taskscapes de genre, particulièrement comment ceux-ci ont évolué au cours des dernières décennies, par suite de l’introduction de nouvelles technologies et de changements économiques et environnementaux majeurs. Aidées par ces idées, nous discutons des transformations dans les taskscapes de Banda en analysant simultanément les données ethnographiques et des vestiges archéologiques de cuisine et d’artisanat fouillés dans le site archéologique de Makala Kataa, qui a été habité du XVIIIe au XXe siècle. Nous maintenons que la production artisanale ne peut pas être vraiment comprise sans faire référence à la production, la préparation et la consommation des aliments. Considérer ces pratiques comme des tâches interdépendantes dans un taskscape de genre peut être efficace pour esquisser les rythmes de la vie quotidienne et pour attirer notre attention sur les compétences des femmes qui sont souvent négligées dans ce genre de recherches.



Research was funded by U.S. National Science Foundation Grants BCS 9410726 and BCS 0751350 to Ann Stahl, and an NSF Dissertation Improvement Grant BCS 1041948 and Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant N010344 to Logan. We gratefully acknowledge the logistical and intellectual support of Ann Stahl, who introduced us both to Banda, and provided detailed feedback on this paper. We also acknowledge the women and men of Banda, in particular Enoch Mensah, who was instrumental to both of our research projects, and the women of Dorbour, who tolerated not just one, but two brunis asking questions about their daily lives. Cameron Gokee and Cynthia Robin (Northwestern University) provided invaluable commentary on the text and the many conceptual iterations of this paper. Andrew Roddick (McMaster University) pointed us to crucial sources on taskscapes. Gabrielle Hecht (University of Michigan) suggested that Maggi cubes were “congealed cubes of women’s labor.” Research was permitted by the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board and the Banda Traditional Council, whose support we gratefully acknowledge.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of DenverDenverUSA

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