Jennifer Hart - Assistant Professor

Web: | Social: @accramobile


Jennifer Hart has been doing research in Accra (Ghana) and London for the last ten years.  She interested in the everyday lived experiences of Africans, and the varied ways the mundane of everyday life intersects with 20thcentury liberal ideals (development, citizenship, modernization, democracy, etc.).

Jennifer’s book, Ghana on the Go!: African Mobility in the Age of Motor Transportation, traces how different groups of Ghanaians shaped a distinct culture of automobility that reflected both the influence of foreign technological cultures and the socioeconomic priorities of African residents throughout the 20th century. She argues that early African appropriation of motor transportation technology and its subsequent expansion as an important economic sector, both as a niche for African entrepreneurs and as a primary mode of public transportation for both passengers and goods, allowed Africans in the Gold Coast/Ghana to have greater role in defining what autonomy meant and how it was exercised in the 20th century.

Hart is currently developing a digital humanities component of this project, called "Accra Mobile: Mapping Mobility, Culture and History in Contemporary Ghana," which will provide an interactive online map of the public transport system in Accra, tracing the routes of informal trotros (or mini-buses) and documenting the sights, sounds, and visual and oral histories of Ghana’s transport scene on a publicly-accessible website. Her second project is a social and cultural history of late-colonial and postcolonial Accra. This project uses archival research, material culture, popular culture, and oral histories to trace the ways in which the politics of urban planning and the development of urban culture were influenced by (and influenced) the emergence of the Accra metropolitan area as a center of national and international attention and interaction. Her interest in Africa also extends beyond research. Jennifer is also involved in debates about contemporary African politics and development, as well as religion, music, art, and performance across the continent.



  • Ph.D., Indiana University 
  • M.A., Indiana University 
  • B.A., Denison University 


Select Publications


Ghana on the Go!: African Mobility in the Age of Motor Transportation, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016.


Articles, Chapters, and Review Essays

  • "Motor Transportation, Trade Unionism, and the Culture of Work in Colonial Ghana," Special Issue: "Labor in Transport: Histories from the Global South [Africa, Asia, and Latin America], 1700-2000," International Review of Social History 59 (2014), 185-209. Reprinted in Labor in Transport: Histories from the Global South, c. 1750-1950, Stefano Belluci, Larissa Rose Correa, Jan-George Deutsch, Chitra Joshi, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
  • “’One Man, No Chop’: Licit Wealth, Good Citizens, and the Criminalization of Drivers in Postcolonial Ghana,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 46: 3 (2013): 373-396.
  • “Suffer to Gain”: Citizenship, Accumulation, and Motor Transportation in Late-Colonial and Postcolonial Ghana, Doctoral Dissertation (Indiana University), 2011


Select Awards

  • Humanities Center Faculty Fellowship, Wayne State University, 2015
  • University Research Award, Wayne State University, 2015
  • Research Enhancement Award, Wayne State University, 2015
  • Residency Fellowship, Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies (University of Michigan), 2012-2013
  • Humanities Center Faculty Fellowship, Wayne State University, 2012
  • Fulbright Hays Doctoral Dissertation Abroad Fellowship, 2009
  • Fulbright IIE Dissertation Fellowship, 2009 (declined)
  • Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (Akan/Twi), AY 2005-2006, summer 2006, AY 2006-2007, summer 2007


Courses Regularly Taught

  • Africa to 1800 (HIS 1600)  
  • Africa since 1800 (HIS 1610)
  • African Cities (HIS 5720/7720)  
  • Everyday Africa (HIS 5710/7710)
3119 FAB
Research Area
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