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In My Time of DyingA History of Death and the Dead in West Africa$
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John Parker

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780691193151

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691193151.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 24 January 2022

Writing and Reading about Death

Writing and Reading about Death

Chapter:
(p.228) 14 Writing and Reading about Death
Source:
In My Time of Dying
Author(s):

John Parker

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691193151.003.0015

This chapter considers the transformation from a culture of speaking about death to one which included writing and reading about death. It spotlights the final quarter of the nineteenth century, from the creation of the British Crown Colony of the Gold Coast in 1874 to its expansion with the formal incorporation of Asante and the savanna hinterland to the north in 1901–2. The chapter focuses on literacy and print culture as they developed on the Gold Coast littoral, a process which would extend into Asante and beyond only in the twentieth century. This print culture comprised both vernacular African languages and, with the departure of the Dutch in 1872, the language of the remaining colonizing power: English. The former was particularly associated with the Basel Mission, whose European and African agents pioneered the transcription of Ga and Twi as written languages and produced the first vernacular printed texts: prayer books, primers, dictionaries, the gospels and, by the 1860s to 1870s, compete translations of the Bible. The Bible, of course, has a great deal to say about mortality and the ends of life, however, the chapter concentrates on a different, secular medium of entextualized discourses about death: newspapers, which, as in Europe, 'accorded mortality new openings.'

Keywords:   print culture, newspapers, death, British Crown Colony, Asante, Bible translations, mortality, end of life

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