Jeffrey Ahlman

Assistant Professor of History

Jeffery Ahlman

Contact & Office Hours

Spring 2018
Friday, 2:45–4:45 p.m.
And by appointment.

10 Prospect Street #105



Ph.D., M.A., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

B.A., University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Jeffrey Ahlman is an assistant professor of history, specializing in African political, social and cultural history. He earned his bachelor's in history from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and his master's and doctorate in history from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the recipient of grants and fellowships from various organizations, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Johns Hopkins University Center for Africana Studies, the University of Virginia’s Carter G. Woodson Institute, the Council on Library and Information Resources, the American Historical Association and the West African Research Association.

His first book, Living with Nkrumahism: Nation, State, and Pan-Africanism in Ghana, focuses on the transnational politics of pan-Africanism and global socialism in mid-twentieth-century Ghana and the popular reactions to it, particularly concerning issues of gender, generation and work in the early postcolonial state. The book was published in 2017 as part of Ohio University Press’s New African Histories series.

He is currently working on two book projects. The first project is a history of modern Ghana. Primarily focused on the mid-nineteenth century to the present, this book, currently titled Ghana: A Modern History, deviates from more conventional national histories of Ghana—as well as those of other countries—as it narrates the country’s relatively recent past through an interlocking set of political, social, cultural and economic networks of belonging and self-identification. This book project is under contract with I.B. Tauris.

His other current book-length project, which is tentatively titled “Nkrumah Never Dies”: History, Culture, and the Power of Postcolonial Afterlives, interrogates the interaction between the material and spiritual worlds in rethinking Ghanaians’ relationships to Ghana’s first generation of postcolonial leaders in the last several decades of Ghanaian history. In doing so, this project aims to detail how, for many Ghanaians, the imagery of an Nkrumah now among the ancestors often embeds itself in deep-seated struggles over the so-called “spirit” of the nation in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

At Smith, Ahlman teaches a range of courses on African history. These include survey courses on early African history, colonial West Africa, and nineteenth- and twentieth-century Africa, as well as topics courses on decolonization, development, gender and sexuality in Africa and African transnationalism, among others. He also regularly teaches the history department’s introduction to the major, The Historian’s Craft. He is affiliated with the African Studies Program, the Five College African Studies Council and the Global South Development Studies Program.

Selected Publications


Living with Nkrumahism: Nation, State, and Pan-Africanism in Ghana. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2017. New African Histories Series.

Articles and Book Chapters

“‘The Strange Case of Major Awhaitey’: Conspiracy, Testimonial Evidence, and Narratives of Nation in Ghana’s Postcolonial Democracy,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 50, no. 2 (2017): 225-249.

“Africa’s Kitchen Debate: Ghanaian Domestic Space in the Age of Cold War.” In Gender, Sexuality, and the Cold War: A Global Perspective, edited by Philip E. Muehlenbeck, 157-177. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2017.

“Managing the Pan-African Workplace: Discipline, Ideology, and the Cultural Politics of the Ghanaian Bureau of African Affairs, 1959-1966,” Ghana Studies 15/16 (2012/13): 337-371.

“A New Type of Citizen: Youth, Gender, and Generation in the Ghanaian Builders Brigade,” Journal of African History 53, no. 1 (2012): 87-105.

“Road to Ghana: Nkrumah, Southern Africa, and the Eclipse of a Decolonizing Africa,” Kronos: Southern African Histories 37 (2011): 23-40.

“The Algerian Question in Nkrumah’s Ghana, 1958-1960: Debating ‘Violence’ and ‘Nonviolence’ in African Decolonization,” Africa Today 57, no. 2 (2010): 67-84.