Lecture 8

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Unformatted text preview: ive ease of state control, compared with the free-enterprise generated by the northern trade across the deserts and savannahs of the Western Sudan. But very important was one of the main objects of trade, the gun itself. Unlike horses, guns are centralizable” (Goody, 1971, p. 52) James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and5, 2009 October Historical Analysis 23 / 25 Other Consequences “In the absence of wheel, plough, and all the concomitant aspects of the ‘ intermediate technology’ Africa was unable to , match the developments in productivity and skill, strati…cation and specialization, that marked agrarian societies of early medieval Europe.” (Goody, 1971, p. 76) In the conclusion Goody also traces some interesting ideas about path dependence when during the colonial period commercial agriculture expanded (e.g. cocoa in Ghana) and how chiefs re-de…ned their role and property rights to cope with this. James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and5, 2009 October Historical Analysis 24 / 25 Centralization of Political Power In Africa there were polities such as the Lele, lacking strong central states, which seem not to have been able to provide basic public goods. Centralized polities were almost certainly richer, as Douglas and Vansina emphasized in their comparison between the Lele and the Bushong. But the discussion of the Kongo and Ethiopia (and I could add Asante, Buganda, Dahomey or Rwanda about which we know a lot) suggests that centralized polities also tended to be highly absolutist. Both states lacked any type of real institutional checks and balances on the power of the monarchy and comparison with European absolutism suggests that central power was much stronger in Africa. James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and5, 2009 October Historical Analysis 25 / 25...
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This document was uploaded on 02/28/2014 for the course ECON 2328 at Harvard.

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