SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

H379 Asante, the Gold Coast and the British, 1807-1935 (I)

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 3
Taught in:
Full Year

This course examines the history of the West African forest kingdom of Asante (in modern Ghana; earlier written Ashanti) in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Using a combination of original documents, contemporary accounts and secondary works, the course traces the shifting relationship between Asante, the states and peoples of the Gold Coast, and British imperial power, from the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade in 1807 to the 'restoration' of the Asante Confederacy in 1935.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course a student should be able to:

  • understand the changing relationship between the Asante kingdom, the Gold Coast colony and the British;
  • to critically asses primary sources used in the construction of history
  • acquire relevant primary and secondary sources and apply them to oral presentations and written essays
  • to produce an extended dissertation on a topic relevant to the course

Scope and syllabus

The first half of the course explores topics in the social, economic and political history of one of Africa's most powerful pre-colonial states: the nature of political power, trade and accumulation, religion and belief, and the encounter with the British on the Gold Coast. The second half of the course looks at the termination of Asante sovereignty, and the transition to colonial rule. 

Topics include:

  • war, 
  • resistance, 
  • the rise of the cocoa export economy, 
  • changing gender relations, 
  • witchcraft and anti- witchcraft, 
  • the construction of 'indirect rule'.

Method of assessment

Exam (50%) and 3 x Coursework (50%)

Suggested reading

  • Wilks, I. Asante in the nineteenth century (London, 1975);
  • McCaskie, T.C. State and society in pre-colonial Asante (Cambridge, 1995);
  • McCaskie, T.C. Asante identities (Edinburgh, 2001);
  • Schildkrout, E., ed., The golden stool (New York, 1987);
  • Allman, J. and V. Tashjian. 'I will not eat stone': a woman's history of colonial Asante (Portsmouth and Oxford, 2000)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules