The Role of Biased Historiography in Justifying the Continuation of the Great Divergence

Studying African history in the period of 1800 to the present is a story of economic and political exploitation that engendered the Great Divergence of today, a bifurcation of the world that gave rise to characterizations of First World/Third World, Global North/Global South, and developed/developing. In order to understand the roots of this bifurcation, it is imperative to begin the historical examination in the 15th and 16th centuries. During this time period, the comparative development levels between Europe and Africa were far more equal than they stand today, but a few critical advantages possessed by the Europeans at the outset of their trade with Africa allowed for the gradual development of dependent economic relations that laid the groundwork for colonialism, the ultimate determinant in bringing about the Great Divergence. Though (neo)colonial representations of African history may insinuate that Europeans are inherently or had always been superior to Africans, this paper seeks to highlight how a few advantages possessed by Europeans in the 15th and 16th centuries brought about not only the Great Divergence of development, but also a divergence in historiography that justified the continuation of such global inequality.

The Gendered Nature of the Economy on the Zambian Copperbelt and its Uneven Impact on the Development of Cultural Modernity

Ever since mining companies’ placement of restrictions on women’s independent sources of income engendered a male-dominant and -dependent economic structure on the Copperbelt, familial relations have become the source of micropolitical and microeconomic contestations between male mineworkers and the other inhabitants of the Copperbelt (e.g., wives, extended family) who make claims on their earning power (Ferguson, 1999). The social and cultural dynamics resulting from such a gender-economic structure had uneven effects on the development of modernity. While the recognition of class consciousness, use of industrial action, and the establishment of formalized class-based associations/unions constitute an achievement of modern cultural forms, the continued lack of a nuclear family norm represents the maintenance of some traditional forms of societal life, and thus a contradiction of modernity.

Economic Statecraft, Media Influence Strategies, and the Impact on Public Perceptions of Chinese Influence in African Countries

This paper empirically demonstrates that in African countries with higher proportions of citizens who believe electricity and water supply to be national priorities as well as higher proportions of citizens who consume news from television, positive perceptions of Chinese influence are higher. By identifying these relationships, this paper contributes to the discourse on Chinese economic statecraft and soft power in Africa, theorizing that economic statecraft is only effective when conducted in tandem with media strategies that attribute development projects to Chinese investment. Click post to view full paper.

The Humanitarian Hypocrisy of US Counterterrorism Policies in Uganda

The main analysis section of this paper provides examples of two humanitarian crises, the War in Northern Uganda and the abuse of the political opposition, and illustrates how the US is responsible for such humanitarian violations via two mechanisms: contributing directly to the abuses by supporting the Ugandan military which carries/allows them to be carried out, and accepting such abuses either as a result of the Ugandan government's use of anti-terrorism rhetoric to justify them or simply in order to maintain the counterterrorism partnership, thereby allowing such abuses to continue. Within this main analysis section, quotes from US officials and agencies are provided to highlight the hypocrisy of US humanitarian goals given its counterterrorism policies, with the exemplified crises and mechanisms evoking America’s culpability. Following the main analysis section, the latest US actions to address human rights issues are considered, raising the possibility that the two-decades long hypocritical policies might come to an end under the newly inaugurated Biden administration. However, the final section concludes that while progress is possible, the past twenty years of the US-Uganda counterterrorism partnership have not only undermined human rights and the humanitarian agenda purportedly championed by the US government, but that the counterterrorism partnership has ended up supporting state-sponsored domestic terrorism as well. 

Multilateral Trade Agreements Should Constitute the Cornerstone of Biden’s US-Africa Policy

On November 24, 2020, in her nomination acceptance speech to become the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield declared, “America is back. Multilateralism is back.” President Joe Biden echoed these remarks at the 2021 Munich Security Conference, proclaiming “America is back. The transatlantic alliance is back.” While this recommitment to multilateralism is welcome, it is imperative that the Biden Administration’s conception of ‘transatlantic multilateralism’ not be limited to that of relations with Western Europe.

The Effect of State Capacity on the Comparative Employment Growth Rates of Government-Owned-Firms and Non-Government-Owned Firms: Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa

By examining the effect of macro-level political variables on firm-level economic variables, this paper attempts to more deeply understand micro-level political economy in a developing context. The results of this paper fill in the research gaps regarding the effects of state capitalism and political institutions (i.e., state capacity) on firm-level employment growth by demonstrating that in countries with high state capacity, government-owned firms have significantly lower employment growth rates than non-government-owned firms, whereas in countries with low state capacity, government-owned firms have significantly higher employment growth rates than non-government-owned firms.

Bobi Wine Profile

Robert Kyagulanyi Sssentamu, famously known by his stage name Bobi Wine (Bobi, a homage to his music idols Bob Marley and Bobby Brown, and Wine because he realized he only gets better with age), is a rapper/singer turned politician in Uganda. A member of parliament since 2017, Wine employs music to rally his People Power Movement in resistance to the autocratic, repressive, and corrupt rule of longtime President Yoweri Museveni’s government. In 2020, he became the leader of a small opposition party, the National Unity Platform, in order to run as a presidential candidate, challenging Museveni in the 2021 election. 

Mau Mau and the Kikuyu

First published in 1952 at the precipice of the Mau Mau uprising, Mau Mau and the Kikuyu is a short book by Louis Leakey, a Kenyan-born British paleoanthropologist. Intended for British audience, Leakey’s primary motive for penning the book stems from his desire to inform British readers about important Kikuyu customs (given his experience growing up among the Kikuyu and studying their traditions) and also to argue for how the introduction of British colonialism upended these longstanding social customs, ultimately resulting in grievances that brought about the Mau Mau uprising. In the first chapter, Leakey writes, “if we are to understand the underlying causes which made it possible for the movement to come into being and to reach the proportions which it has reached, we must know something of the history and customs of the Kikuyu” (1). Throughout the book, Leakey explains how the social grievances underlining the Mau Mau uprising stemmed from the breakdown of Kikuyu customs (such as those pertaining to the Kikuyu system of clan-based authority and marriage) resulting from British colonization and land dispossession. In contrast to A Grain of Wheat, which focuses on ties of Mau Mau to a broader Kenyan identity, Mau Mau and the Kikuyu specifically focuses on the breakdown of Kikuyu customs and identity as a result of colonization and as an impetus for Mau Mau. However, the two sources are similar in that they identify the breakdown of local customs and traditions stemming from European “modernization” and land dispossession as core grievances stimulating the Mau Mau movement.