Kuukuwa Manful Wins 2023 ASA Graduate Student Paper Prize

The African Studies Association (ASA) recognized Taubman College Assistant Professor of Architecture Kuukuwa Manful with the 2023 ASA Graduate Student Paper Prize for her article “Building Classes: Secondary Schools and Sociopolitical Stratification in Ghana.”

Manful, now a member of the Taubman College faculty, presented her paper as a graduate student at the 2022 ASA Annual Meeting and was eligible to be considered for the prize the following year. She received the award at the 2023 ASA Annual Meeting in December.

“Although it is widely accepted that understanding social class in Africa is more than just about economic metrics and income figures, but rather about social perceptions and individual identification with class groupings, it remains unclear how exactly people form class perceptions and why they identify with one class group rather than another,” said Manful. “My article shows how Ghanaians find and place themselves in hierarchies – such as those of class, religion, and gender – through their perceptions and usage of secondary school buildings.”

The article comes from Manful’s PhD research, now a book project, on “The Architecture of Education in Ghana.” In the book, she examines the sociopolitical and physical architecture of (secondary) schools from the 15th century to the 21st century to make arguments about nation-building, social class, and modernity in Ghana. Manful’s most recent project is a study of the “Formalisation and Informalisation of Architecture in West Africa,” using a collection of endangered archives that she has recently digitized.

Winning essays are submitted to the African Studies Review for expedited peer review and, if recommended for publication, will appear in the June issue.

The African State Architecture project, which this study is part of, has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement No 772070).