The article examines some of the crucial issues that have characterized historical research into this region. Historians have focused on the history of the colonization of the forest. The extensive exogamic matriclans became the prevailing criterion governing relations between ruling social groups and subject ones. However the historiography of Akan societies needs to go beyond the confines of restricted political and historical entities or specific “ethnic” realities, and focus on the networks of relationships operating across the region as a whole. Local sources usually explain these links between groups in terms of the language of kinship, especially maternal and paternal affiliations. Historical analysis helps in contextualising the relationship between alliance/kinship and the State, giving evidence about the working of social mechanisms – for instance the gyaase – which provide a very effective mediation between kinship and social class.
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