The Center for African Studies and The Hutchins Center for African and African American Research partnered to launch the Workshop on African History and Economics (WAHE). Professor of History and of African and African American Studies and CAS Faculty Director, Emmanuel Akyeampong, and Nathan Nunn, Professor of Economics at Harvard University, serve as facilitators of the conference series. WAHE seeks to examine African economies from a historical standpoint, honing in on two trends: "the development of the 'New Economic History' with its tendency for comparative studies of regional economic performance; and a new emphasis on longue durée studies in African history." WAHE creates a dialogue that draws from the research agendas of academic researchers, development experts, policy makers, and African entrepreneurs, while prioritizing graduate research focused on African economics and economic/business history.
The past decade or two has witnessed the rise of the New Economic History with comparative studies of economic performance that have juxtaposed Africa side by side with other world regions. The result has been to draw Africa into comparative analysis without Africa driving the research agenda. This intersects with growing interest in emerging economies and in Africa’s recent growth acceleration, the dynamics of which are not well understood. The New Economic History has drawn attention to the importance of institutions and underscored the reality that Africa’s growth and development challenges are among other things a crises of institutions. Africa has caught the attention of Western financial institutions.
African countries have begun to investigate ways to target academic training towards the needs of industry. African policy makers and business people have turned to the academic community for insight, and we believe Harvard should be at the forefront of the production of knowledge about Africa’s economies in the 21st century. This workshop seeks to provide a forum for cutting edge work on African economic history and economics, and to facilitate dialogue between academic researchers, international development agencies and policy makers, and business people.