Dr Leigh Gardner

Assistant Professor, Economic History 

My research focuses on the economic history of Africa and the British Empire. I am particularly interested in the monetary and fiscal systems of sub-Saharan Africa during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and in comparative research which places African countries in a global context. My first book, Taxing Colonial Africa: The Political Economy of British Imperialism (Oxford, 2012) illustrates how fiscal imperatives shapes British colonial institutions in African colonies. Most recently, I have begun a project comparing the development of independent countries in Africa with their colonized neighbours in order to distinguish the effects of colonialism from more general constraints on development faced by peripheral countries before World War II. I am also extending my work on the financial organization of the British Empire, looking particularly at how efforts to resolve agency problems helped shape imperial institutions.


  • Editor, Economic History of Developing Regions (with J. Fourie) 2014-
  • Assistant Book Reviews Editor, Economic History Review 2014-
  • Co-editor, Oxford Discussion Papers in Economic and Social History 2007-9


 Other posts

  • Research Fellow, Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University

Current teaching

  • EH211 Africa and the World Economy, 1500-2000
  • EH237 Theories and Evidence in Economic History
  • EH413 African Economic Development in Historical Perspective
  • MSc dissertation sessions in Economic History, Global History, and Political Economy of Late Development

Selected publications


  • L.A. Gardner (2012) Taxing Colonial Africa: The Political Economy of British Imperial Rule, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
  • D. Branch, N. Cheeseman and L. Gardner (2010) Our Turn to Eat: Politics in Kenya Since 1950, Berlin: Lit Verlag.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • ‘The Rise and Fall of Sterling in Liberia, 1870-1943’, Economic History Review (forthcoming 2014).
  • L.A. Gardner (2013) ‘The Fiscal History Of The Belgian Congo In Comparative Perspective’, in F. Buelens and E. Frankema (eds.), Colonial Exploitation and Economic Development: The Belgian Congo and the Netherlands Indies Compared, London: Routledge.
  • M. Bolt, C. Eagleton and L. Gardner (2012) ‘Money in Africa: New Historical and Anthropological Approaches’, in B. Cook (ed.), The British Museum and the Future of UK Numismatics, London: British Museum Press.
  • L. Gardner and R. Gardner (2011), ‘The Internationalization of the Electromagnetics Meetings and Related Activities of the Summa Foundation’, Proceedings of the IEEE International Symposium on Antennas and Propagation. 
  • L.A. Gardner (2010) ‘Decentralization and Corruption in Historical Perspective: Evidence from Tax Collection in British Colonial Africa’, Economic History of Developing Regions 25: 213-36.
  • L.A. Gardner (2010) ‘An Unstable Foundation: Taxation and Development in Kenya, 1945-63’, in D. Branch, N. Cheeseman and L. Gardner (eds.), Our Turn to Eat: Politics in Kenya Since 1950, Berlin: Lit Verlag.

Working papers

  •  ‘African Economic Development in a European Mirror’, with Stephen Broadberry (LSE)
  • ‘Trade and Monetization in British West Africa, 1912-70: Evidence from Seasonal Cycles’. In progress.
  • ‘The ‘empire effect’ on the ground: A comparative study of Liberia and Sierra Leone’. In progress.
  • ‘State-building in Liberia and Sierra Leone: Colonial institutions in comparative perspective’. In progress
  • ‘A “commercial business of government”? Chartered companies and the expansion of the British Empire, 1880-1824’. In progress
  • ‘Markets, States and Money in West Africa: Evidence from the Partition of Senegambia’. In progress.
  • Money in Africa, with Max Bolt (Birmingham), Katie Eagleton (British Library), and Karin Pallaver (Bologna)