Dr Leigh A Gardner, Lecturer in Economic History, London School of Economics and Political Science
Recent research in African economic history has increasingly looked farther into Africa’s past to explain current economic outcomes, attempting to assess how the Atlantic slave trades, the shift to legitimate commerce, and colonialism have continued to affect African economies today.
This course provides an introduction to African economic history, focusing particularly on its changing relationship to the global economy from the early modern period through the twentieth century. It will draw on the latest research in African economic history and students will discuss and debate different explanations of Africa’s relative poverty.
Three key questions will be addressed:
What were the key factors influencing Africa’s position in the world economy?
How did Africans respond to the opportunities and challenges offered by changes in the global economy?
What impact did these changes have on economic growth and living standards in Africa and how can we measure this with the available evidence?
In answering these questions, students will receive an introduction to the key themes in African economic history as well as to the methods and theories used by economic historians in researching the development of emerging economies over the long run. Comparative examples will be used to underline the common challenges faced by developing countries in an industrializing and globalizing world, and to examine why some parts of the developing world (e.g. Asia) have succeeded in transitioning to modern economic growth and others have not.
Full course outline
Dr Leigh A Gardner is Lecturer in Economic History at the London School of Economics, and a Research Fellow in African Economic History at Stellenbosch University, South Africa.
She completed her doctorate at the University of Oxford, and has previously taught at the University of Cape Town and worked as a researcher on the British Museum’s ‘Money in Africa’ project.
Her research focuses on the fiscal history of the British Empire, focusing on Africa and the colonial foundations of Africa’s economic performance.