The current political and economic morass of underdeveloped nations cannot be analyzed in a vacuum. As we discussed last week, some countries and regions have greatly benefited from their geographical advantages, which essentially served as a propeller for rapid development. Underdeveloped countries however have long struggled to catch up and their progress have been greatly hindered by the heavy historical baggage left by exogenous groups. Though many, have touted the positive effects of colonialism, this week’s readings explore the role played by both colonialism and slavery in the former colonies’ underdevelopment.
In The Long Term Effects of Africa’s Slave Trade, Nathan Nunn attempts to demonstrate that historical extractions, such as slave trades and colonialism have greatly contributed to undermining Africa’s development. In order to prove his argument, Nunn performs a series of analyses using historical archives and slave trade data. He first examined the relationship between the number of slaves extracted in each country and current economic development. He found that countries where the highest number of slaves were extracted were currently the poorest. In other words, the production of slaves also played a role in hindering the economic development of slave producing countries. He then examined the relationship between slave trades and current ethnic fractionalization. He found that fictionalization was in fact a result of the slave trade. Ties between communities, villages and ethnic groups were weakened due to the threat of kidnappings; groups began to isolate themselves and distrust one another. Nunn argues that ethnic diversity is an important contributing factor to econo...
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...ialism. When answer this question, the authors caution the comparison of colonial Africa to and post-independence Africa, as many of the factors leading to lower performance results in post-independence Africa are a direct result of colonialism. The authors suggest that Africa would have continued to develop and evolve on its own, many African colonies already had existing centralized government structures. The authors conclude that the arguments stating that Africa benefited from colonialism are quite false, in fact colonialism gravely hindered Africa’s development process.
Lately there has been a few attempts to depict slavery and colonialism in a positive light. However colonial expansion has solely benefited the European Metropoles. I agree with the authors, given Africa’s resources their development would have occurred naturally had colonialism not occurred.
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