West Africa

Authored by: Gareth Austin , Gerardo Serra

Routledge Handbook of the History of Global Economic Thought

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  August  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415508490
eBook ISBN: 9781315761084
Adobe ISBN: 9781317644125


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Much has been written on economic values and attitudes in West Africa, from pre-colonial times to the present, as well as on the importance of Africa as a ‘testing ground’ and site of discovery in the history of economic theory and the social sciences (Collier, 1993; Rimmer, 2000; Sichone, 2003). Yet, West Africans’ contributions to economic thought have been neglected. This chapter offers, to the best of our knowledge, the first long-run historical overview. We understand ‘economic thought’ broadly, to include not only the analytic outlook associated with professional economists (who in West Africa emerged as a distinguishable group only in the terminal phase of colonial domination), but also expressions of what Joseph Schumpeter called ‘economic vision’, in which the understanding of economic reality is explicitly shaped by ‘pre-analytic’ moral or political considerations. It is worth noting, at the outset, that the works of Adam Smith and David Ricardo have not been translated into West African languages, and their direct reception by West African writers appears to have been mainly by professional economists.

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