Walking around the township of New Senchi, Ghana, the ghost of the original plan is still faintly discernible in linear rows of crumbling, single-story houses.1 Constructed to resettle people displaced by a large hydroelectric power scheme in the 1960s, the town was at the vanguard of postindependence visions of national development and embodied the high-modern aspirations of the time (see J. Scott 1998). Original plans show the spatial zoning of industrial and residential use. Architects’ drawings depict rows of bungalows fronted by manicured lawns and fringed by neatly clipped hedges. Artists’ impressions of interiors show flushing toilets and modern kitchens. I am accompanied by Eric, an unemployed primary-school teacher in his early thirties. Although born after the 1960s, he has a vivid sense of the project’s promised futures and describes these as we walk: officials told resettlers that well-paid jobs would be created through the industries that would develop, catalyzed by the cheap and plentiful power supplied by the nearby Akosombo dam; subsistence farming would be transformed through mechanization and industrialization; infrastructure—including railways, paved roads, and a nearby airport—would be built.
Yarrow, T. (2017). Remains of the Future: rethinking space and time of ruination through the Volta Resettlement Project, Ghana. Cultural Anthropology, 32(4), 566-591. https://doi.org/10.14506/ca32.4.06