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Level 5

5AAH1083 From Richard Beale Blaize to Isabel dos Santos: African Entrepreneurship in Historical Perspective, c. 1850-2000

Credit value: 15
Module convenor/tutor 2019/20: Dr Katharina Oke
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour seminars (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 1,500-word formative essay; 1 x 3,000-word essay (100%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years

This course explores African entrepreneurship against the backdrop of growinginterest in African business, entrepreneurs as agents of economic transformation,and the new global history of capitalism. Moving beyond a more structural economic history that seeks to explain the relative poverty of the region, this course highlights individual, group and societal economic agency and initiative. It brings together a broad range of entrepreneurial practices from various parts of the continent and allows students to contrast and compare African models of problem solving and value creation and to study the role of innovation and enterprise in African history. Moreover, entrepreneurship and business practices will not only be considered as opportunities for economic prosperity and profit, but will be located within the wider social context: this course also discusses the changing ways in which business and entrepreneurship formed part of the cultural, social and political landscape of African societies.

The course combines a chronological approach with a focus on selected themes. It revisits major themes and debates in the economic history of Africa and addresses the utility and limits of current analytical categories for the study of  entrepreneurship in Africa. It highlights constraints and opportunities informing entrepreneurship in a changing economic context, and gives insight into the flexible African entrepreneurial terrain in which the lines between business and social obligations could be blurred, opportunity structures could be defined in both cultural and economic terms and conditions and logics of business practices couldtranscend market transactions. It explores the role of innovation and enterprise in African history, probes into scholarly discourse about the existence of a distinct African business culture and considers how African entrepreneurship relates to a global history of capitalism.

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these texts is not mandatory.

F. Cooper, Africa in the World. Capitalism, Empire, Nation State (Cambridge,2014), esp. 'Africa and Capitalism'

J. Iliffe, Africans. The History of a Continent (Cambridge, 1995)

J. Iliffe, The Emergence of African Capitalism (London, 1983)

M. Ochonu (ed.), Entrepreneurship in Africa. A Historical Approach (Indiana,2018)

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