Warfare and Diplomacy in Pre-Colonial West Africa by Robert Sydney SmithWe investigate the role of deeply-rooted pre-colonial ethnic institutions in shaping comparative regional development within African countries. We combine information on the spatial distribution of ethnicities before colonization with regional variation in contemporary economic performance, as proxied by satellite images of light density at night. We document a strong association between pre-colonial ethnic political centralization and regional development. This pattern is not driven by differences in local geographic features or by other observable ethnic-specific cultural and economic variables. The strong positive association between pre-colonial political complexity and contemporary development obtains also within pairs of adjacent ethnic homelands with different legacies of pre-colonial political institutions. There has been ample research on the institutional origins of African under development both in economics and the broader literature in social sciences; yet the two strands have followed somewhat different paths. On the one hand, influenced by the studies of Acemoglu et al.
This new edition of the well-known innovative study of the relations of the peoples of West Africa in the pre-colonial period covers a period of four or five hundred years, up to the last decades of the nineteenth century. Smith addresses outside influences but focuses primarily on what happened between African states before the partition and the establishment of colonies. Robert S. Smith was senior lecturer and professor of history at Lagos, Ife and Ibadan universities, in Nigeria. If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page.
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