DV435      Half Unit
African Political Economy

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Edwin Brett

Professor Keith Hart and Professor Catherine Boone.


This course is available on the MPA in International Development, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies and MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The course explores Africa’s changed place in the world at a time when the continent’s economic prospects suggest some grounds for optimism. It will examine the economic consequences of different political forms that have shaped African history and may be emerging now. In the twentieth century, these forms were predominantly colonial and post-colonial states, but during the colonial period Panafricanism was the most inclusive political movement in the world. The course of 10 lectures begins with an overview of institutional change in the region. This leads into the debate over the transition from authoritarian structuralism to liberalisation, which is illuminated by regional or national cases. The challenge for Africans remains achieving political forms that guarantee democracy. The context for this includes a demographic explosion and rapid urbanization, while Africa’s share of the world population rises inexorably. Some of the other issues to be explored are those of public health in Africa and transitional justice.


20 hours of lectures and 15 hours of classes in the MT.

Formative coursework

A mock examination.

Indicative reading

Vishnu Padayachee (ed) The Political Economy of Africa (already in AD)
W.A. Lewis The Evolution of the International Economic Order
Moeletse Mbeki Architects of Poverty
Bill Freund The African City: a History
Keith Hart The Political Economy of West African Agriculture
Frantz Fanon The Wretched of the Earth
Walter Rodney How Europe Underdeveloped Africa
Colin Leys, The Rise and Fall of Development Theory (James Currey, 1996).
Crawford Young, The African Colonial State in Comparative Perspective (Yale 1997)
Mahmood Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (Princeton, 1994).
Herbst, Jeffrey. States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control (Princeton, 2000).
James Ferguson, Expectations of Modernity: Myths and Meanings of Urban Life on the Zambian Copperbelt (UC Press, 1999)
Severene Autessere, The Trouble with Congo: Local Violence and the Trouble with International Peacekeeping (Cambridge 2010) OR Adam Branch, Displacing Human Rights: War and Intervention in Northern Uganda (Oxford).
William Reno, Warfare in Independent Africa (CUP, 2011).
David E. Bloom, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Paul Collier, Christopher Udry, "Geography, Demography, and Economic Growth in Africa," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, vol. 1988, n. 2 (1998): 207-295.
Paul Nugent, "States and Social Contracts in Africa," New Left Review 63, May June 2010: 35-63.
Brennan Kraxberger, "Strangers, Indigenes, and Settlers: Contested Geographies of Citizenship in Nigeria," Space and Polity 9/1 (2005): 9-27.
Jean-Paul Azam, "The Redistributive State and Conflict in Africa," J. of Peace Research 38/4 (2001): 429-444.
Chauveau and Richards, "West African Insurgencies in Agrarian Perspective: Côte d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone Compared," J. of Agrarian Change, 8/4 (2008):515-52 OR Krijn Peters, War and the Crisis of Youth in Sierra Leone (Cambridge University Press, 2011).


Exam (80%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (20%, 2500 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

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