Conducting International Research

I have two years of experience conducting ethnographic, survey, and archival research in Ghana (West Africa).

Below are presentations and publications based on this ethnographic and archival research:

Project Name: Migrants’ Remittances and Social Network Analysis (SNA)

Key Findings: Most immigrants and refugees send money home to family members on a regular basis. Many immigrants from West Africa also invest part of their income on businesses (for example: funding the purchase of a taxi or mini-bus) in their country of origin. Social factors (social capital and social debt) and networks play a major role in shaping these financial investments.

Methods: I conducted an ethnographic field study in Accra, Ghana, and Chicago, Illinois. This contextual inquiry included semi-structured interviews, surveys, community mapping, network analysis, participant observation, and behavioral observation with passengers and drivers.

Applications: Network analysis can improve our understanding of remittance flows.

Presentations: Okraku, Therese. “Reframing Remittances Through the Lens of Investment in Social Networks,” 5th Annual Conference on Immigration to the US South, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

Okraku, Therese. “Reframing Remittances: Using Social Network Analysis to Examine Ghanaian Migrants’ Contributions to their Home Community,” African Studies Association (ASA) Annual Meeting, Indianapolis, IN, November 21, 2015.

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Project Name: Entrepreneurs in Ghanaian Transportation Networks

Key Findings: Transportation in Ghana appears unorganized to an outsider. A deeper inquiry into this system revealed a highly organized network of transportation stations, routes, and drivers. Drivers’ experiences and motivation vary greatly. Most drivers are entrepreneurs that take great pride in their work and play a vital role in the Ghanaian economy.

Methods: I conducted an ethnographic field study in Accra and Kumasi, Ghana. This contextual inquiry included semi-structured interviews, surveys, community mapping, network analysis, participant observation, and behavioral observation with passengers and drivers. I also conducted a text analysis of archival documents in Ghana about transportation.

Applications: Drivers can play an important role in circulating information to the Ghanaian public.

Presentation: Okraku, Therese. “Unpacking the Tro-Tro: Exploring the Role of Entrepreneurs in Ghanaian Transportation Networks,” American Anthropological Association (AAA) Annual Meeting, Washington D.C. December 5, 2015.

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Project Name: The History of the U.S. Embassies in Ghana

Key Findings: Embassies project national identity and ideals. U.S. embassy building abroad used to reflect the local culture and architectural trends but currently prioritizes uniformity and security. The transformation of the U.S. embassy in Ghana provides an example of this shift and its impact on international diplomacy.

Method: I conducted a literature review and text analysis of archival documents from the U.S. and Ghana about U.S. embassies.

ApplicationsEmbassy architecture shapes local perceptions of the U.S. International diplomacy requires a consideration of architectural choices.

Publication: Kennelly, Therese. “Constructing a National Architecture: The History of U.S. Embassy Building and Its Implications in Accra, Ghana.” Primary Source 1(1): 29-34. (http://www.indiana.edu/~psource/PDF/Archive%20Articles/Spring2011/ThereseKennellyArticle.pdf)

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Project Name: West African Transportation on Film

Key Findings: Drivers used to have high status in Ghana, but as cars became more common and safety concerns arose their status diminished. The public currently views drivers negatively. However, they play an integral part in Ghanaian society.

Methods: I conducted an ethnographic field study in Accra and Kumasi, Ghana. This contextual inquiry included semi-structured interviews, surveys, community mapping, network analysis, participant observation, and behavioral observation with passengers and drivers. I also conducted a text analysis of archival documents in Ghana about transportation.

Applications: Transporation systems must address safety concerns to retain public support.

Publication: Okraku, Therese Kennelly. “‘Biribiara Wo Ne Mmerε’ (Everything Has Its Time): Exploring Changing Perceptions of Transportation on Film from the Colonial Gold Coast to Contemporary Ghana.” Africa Today 62.4 (2016): 44-64. doi:10.2979/africatoday.62.4.03 (https://muse.jhu.edu/article/620265/summary)

Presentation: Okraku, Therese. “Transforming the Tro-Tro: Exploring Perceptions of West African Transportation on Film,” 4th Annual Graduate Students in African Studies Symposium, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. March 1, 2014.

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