Muntaka Chasant is a Ghanaian professional documentary photographer and independent researcher based in Accra, Ghana.
His photographic practices and research interests straddle human geography and environmental sociology. Firmly grounded in ethnographic field research, Muntaka’s works lie mainly at the intersection of urban marginality, geographies of waste, and emerging environmental issues — including the ‘three planetary crises’ of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.
Marginalities & Mobilities
In framing everyday Accra, my work foregrounds the proliferation of urban struggles and explores traces of urban memories. Drawing on my own ethnographic fieldwork, I show the hidden geographies of Accra’s urban youth. Examples: youth boxing as a catalyst for upward social mobility in coastal Jamestown and hazardous child labour along the banks of the Korle, where struggles and dreams intersect.
On the urban frontline, I draw on Edward Soja’s spatial justice theory — that justice has a geography and that the equitable distribution of resources, services, and access is a basic human right — to emphasize how locational discrimination reinforces urban inequalities.
I further draw on Rob Nixon’s slow violence — in documenting sacrifice zones — to show youth on the front lines of toxic exposures in the urban global south.
Wacquant’s urban marginality: helps to visualize a concentrated poverty area such as the small part of Old Fadama below — illustrating a lack of provision of proper infrastructure as a spatial injustice — as an identified, bounded, isolated, and impoverished territory.
Key urban actors have often perceived a place such as Old Fadama as some sort of “social purgatory,” — as Wacquant put it.
But basic infrastructure and services in Ghana, for instance, are guaranteed and delivered by the state. So, the urban poor cannot be responsible for the conditions under which they live.
These theoretical tools frequently guide how I frame my subjects/communities/groups/people — in a way that prods the viewer to rethink urban inequality and reimagine a place such as Old Fadama as a site of spatial injustice.
Consequently, my urban photographic practices explore the representation of marginal(ized) urban populations, spatial production, center-margin relations, micro-level of everyday encounters in contested cities, stigmatized and sacrifice zones, critical urban theory, and how exclusionary logics materialize. Offering some kind of stability to the binary notion of the center and the periphery, my work outlines new perspectives on emerging urban conditions with the goal of contributing to the contemporary debates about justice, space, and the city.
Having spent a great deal of my young adult life wandering through some of the world’s most extreme places, I am dedicating the rest of my youth on the urban frontline. To capture contemporary urban realities, dig deeper into the trenches of urban struggles and collects first-hand stories of people on the frontlines.
Feel free to reach out via the form below or get in touch at hello[at]muntaka.com. I will be in touch within 72 hours.
Good luck and stay safe!