Spiders of the Market:

Ghanaian Trickster Performance in a Web of Neoliberalism

By David A Donkor
Buy Book

Indiana University Press, 2016

ISBN 978-0-253-02145-8

254 Pages


The Ghanaian trickster-spider, Ananse, is a deceptive figure full of comic delight who blurs the lines around class, politics, and morality. David Afriyie Donkor keys in on social performance as a way to understand trickster behavior within the shifting process of political legitimization in Ghana. Donkor’s stories exploit the social ideologies of economic neoliberalism and political democratization. At the level of policy, neither was completely successful, but Donkor shows how the Ghanaian government was crafty in selling this fare to the people, adapting trickster-rooted performance techniques to reinterpret citizenship and the common good. Trickster performers rebelled against this takeover of their art and sought new ways to out trick the tricksters.


1. From State to Market: The History of a Social Compact
2. Once Upon a Spider: Ananse and the Counterhegemonic Trickster Ethos
3. Selling the President: Stand-Up Comedy and the Politricks of Endorsement
4. Ma Red’s Maneuvers: Popular Theater and “Progressive” Culture
5. In the House of Stories: Village Aspirations and Heritage Tourism


David Afriyie Donkor is Assistant Professor of Performance Studies and Africana Studies at Texas A&M University. He is an actor and a director who has adapted several folktales, personal narratives, and literary works for the stage. His scholarly work is published in Ghana Studies, Cultural Studies, Theatre Survey, and TDR.

Online media for this book