Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Edmund F. Wehrle


This project interrogates how economic self interest motivated periphery states such as Ghana to use foreign policy as a vehicle to attract improved development assistance from superpowers, in this case the United States. While the United States viewed its aid program in Ghana in stringently Cold War terms, Kwame Nkrumah and his advisors were less inclined to get deeply concerned about Cold War ideology. This project shows that Ghanaian agency was manifested in the Cold War through the new state's construction of a foreign policy image that made it a prominent African voice globally. It then examines how that image was then appropriated to meet domestic policy needs in modernization and industrialization. Adopting the globalist approach to Cold War history, this project postulates that national economic interests made Nkrumah shrewd and calculating in his relations with the U.S. This was done ostensibly to facilitate access to significant foreign aid from Washington for national development. To that end, Nkrumah constructed an international image as Africa's spokesperson to provide conspicuity to his own nation's needs in Washington and other centers of power.

Ghana's story shows that the Cold War was a global phenomenon with enormous interactional valence among nations whether great or small, rich or poor. States such as Ghana used the Cold War environment to engage others to further its interests without an overzealous consideration for the ideological concerns of the West or East. The study concludes that though a militarily and economically less powerful state, Ghana, a periphery Cold War actor, manifested agency through tact in its external policy in a bipolarized global landscape.