chapter  3
Critical beaches
Coastal erosion and geosociality in south-eastern Ghana
By Flitner Michael , Heins Volker M. , Herbeck Johannes
Pages 15

The retreat of coastlines due to rising sea levels, frequent storm surges and heavy rainfall has put coastal people in many places throughout the world in danger. These and other situations in which people lose control over their livelihoods have given rise to speculation that rapid environmental change may increase the risk of violent conflict. This chapter follows a different approach by exploring the connections between the vulnerability of local places and people to coastal erosion, the role of local authorities and the central state in dealing with the situation, and the attempts to form new regional alliances to tackle the onslaught of the sea. Challenging environmental determinism and the nature/society split, and drawing on data from fieldwork in the Keta Municipal District of Ghana, the authors inquire into the regional political and social dynamics that have evolved around the issue of coastal erosion and changing geosocialities in this part of the West Africa. Specifically, the chapter addresses three questions: (1) how coastal erosion has affected social practices and political activities of local people and translocal networks in the region; (2) how, as a result of these practices and activities, since the 1980s various technological responses were explored at different scales, some under the auspices of the European Economic Community (EEC), and why some of these efforts failed; and (3) how consequences and perceptions both of coastal erosion and of collective efforts to counter its effects, in particular through the Keta Sea Defense, reverberate across the region, influencing the development of new regional identities and patterns of cooperation.