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Pamela Blackmon (RSA)

When Oct 25, 2016
from 11:45 AM to 01:00 PM
Where 121 Borland Building
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Africa as the “Dark Continent”: Tracing the Narrative of Development in the Transition from Agricultural Based Growth in Ethiopia and Ghana

The metaphor of Africa as the “Dark Continent” has had numerous implications for how Africa and Africans have been depicted.  If countries in Africa export different types of goods, such as manufactured and services based goods, does the narrative about that country’s socio-economic progress change as well?  What does that tell us about the importance of language, and specifically economic language in framing a narrative of Africa?  In this project, which will comprise part of my book manuscript, I seek to go back to the underlying framework shaping the narrative of economies based on the export of primary agricultural goods.  During my time in residence, I will undertake a textual analysis of academic publications by prominent development economists beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, policies advocated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in the 1980s and 1990s and portrayals in contemporary media in order to explain how this narrative of Africa and economies based on the export of primary agricultural goods developed.  In order to determine if the narrative about countries in Africa changes, I will examine whether the narrative of Ethiopia and Ghana is altered as they begin to export more manufactured goods.  In this project, I want to examine how an economy based on the export of primary agricultural goods contributes to the narrative of those countries, as depicted by development economists and in policy formation of the financial institutions.