Essays on the political economy of africa bates

Bates writes about the effort to shift the base of their these African states economy from agricultural production to manufacture. In order to do so, the states need to be empowered in term of resources. Therefore, these African states deliberately extract revenues and resources from the agricultural rural production which is their most profitable sector. Their strategy of extracting revenues and resources from the agricultural sector distorts the agricultural market by having an institution like the monopsony that monopolize buying and selling of produce. Revenues gained from this market intervention then used to build modern economy and at the same time sustain and defend the longevity of the regime and the state.

May 23, Sasha rated it it was ok Shelves: polisci , nonfiction. I am studying for my prelims but so far this is the only entire book I have read. People who want to know more about food and agricultural policy in sub-Saharan Africa should, ya know, read this, because that's what it's about But this book is a classic so that's why it ends up on prelim lists.

Mar 27, Braden rated it really liked it Shelves: economics , politics-political-theory , poverty , Bates does an incredibly job of explaining how poverty in Africa is perpetuated through state agricultural policies. This is a seminal book for understanding poverty in African states. I recommend this to anyone interested in international affairs or economic and political development. Aug 09, Sarah rated it really liked it Shelves: economics , non-fiction. A very elegant book. It is easy to throw that word around, but I am not using it rashly. View 1 comment. Oct 24, Lisa added it Shelves: econ-related.

I read this for my African politics class Jan 14, Danielle rated it really liked it. Very insightful to the struggles and troubles of the African people, and why they have had little success in developing their economy. Jesse rated it it was ok Jun 19, Sergei Moska rated it liked it Apr 23, Joe rated it really liked it Jan 28, Richard Sandbrook rated it really liked it Aug 27, Kristopher Bonnejonne rated it liked it Dec 04, Bryan Lockwald rated it liked it Oct 10, Bolin Zhou rated it really liked it Apr 15, Dnalphonsus rated it liked it Jan 24, Shelby rated it liked it Sep 09, Helen Rockwell rated it really liked it Aug 22, Kaylan O'byrne rated it really liked it Apr 16, Jason Wu rated it liked it Aug 21, Jennifer rated it really liked it Mar 14, Justin Van Ness rated it really liked it Sep 29, Marc F.

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As Tanganyika drove Amin from Uganda, other armies had entered Uganda as well. Each was led by a politician seeking to succeed him. Although Tanganyika installed Milton Obote as president, other leaders refused to concede, and their armies operated within and about the national capital.

My mission therefore operated in a war zone. We had to plan our trips carefully, always making sure of backup lest our vehicle break down or be hijacked; and to schedule our interviews so that we could return to base before dark. We planned our work, that is, with a view to remaining alive. We recommended replacing the marketing board with an auction and designed one that, during the period of transition, would leave the beneficiaries of the current system with little reason to oppose the change. I was asked by the Bank if I would be willing to return to Uganda to implement our plans.

Initially, I demurred. What if the new system simply replaced one monopsonist with another? What if it were simply to replace the government with a cartel of colluding buyers? If large corporations could dominate the East African market, perhaps it would be better that the government retain market power. The Bank agreed. We worked out a study tour that enabled me to conduct interviews in the financial district in New York, the International Coffee Organization ICO in London, the head offices of coffee companies in Hamburg and Geneva, the ports and warehouses of Mombasa, the auction floors in Nairobi, and finally producers and policy makers in Kampala, where I would at last join up with the World Bank team.


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I had entered the world of coffee, and I found it fascinating. But I had also re-entered the world of violence. Upon the arrival of the Bank mission in Kampala, the government offered us rooms in a hotel that also housed torture chambers; we refused the offer.

Bates, Robert H. - LC Linked Data Service: Authorities and Vocabularies | Library of Congress

Later on, we secured the release of a reporter from the army's barracks, where for days he had lived in fear of death and witnessed the torture of others. Equally disturbing were the changes I noticed among those with whom I had worked several months previously. Whereas they had been enthusiastic during my first visit, they now appeared dispirited and depressed. They had seen, I learned, too many people die. When we left Kampala for Kenya, I called home to inform my family of my safety.

I then got drunk. It was easy to trace my mood to my experiences in Uganda. But, as I eventually divined, I was grieving as well for the loss of the joy I long taken from Africa. Over subsequent months, my thoughts repeatedly returned to the coffee industry. By studying the industry, I could transition out of the study of Africa. I could also move from micro-level research on small communities to research on topics that affected many portions of the world. Coffee production, I knew, virtually spanned the tropics, and though produced in the global South, the beverage was largely consumed in the North.

I could therefore remain focused on the politics of development. Not only that, the industry gave rise to compelling phenomena. The global market was governed: the ICO regulated exports and so controlled the price. But by raising the price of coffee, the ICO created incentives to increase exports. How did they respond and why did they respond that way?

In some countries, I learned, the government bought up the surplus and stockpiled or destroyed it; in others, it overvalued the currency, thereby lowering the value of exports; and in still others, the government prevented new farmers from entering the market. The first strategy represented a transfer of resources from the taxpayer to farmers. The second represented a victory of importers presumably residents of the urban areas over exporters including rural producers of agricultural commodities.

The third was the product of a battle within the rural sector itself. The same shock—restriction on exports—thus hit each producer nation, but the different countries responded to it in different ways. What might account for this variation? A study of the coffee industry should be of interest not only to students of development studies but also to those studying comparative politics or international political economy.

Politics of Africa

I studied Spanish and began my work in Colombia, where Charles Bergquist, a distinguished historian then at Duke, introduced me to journalists, political officials, and persons in the coffee industry. So too did scholars at Fedesarrolo, an important center for development studies, where I was given an office. Next I studied Portuguese and shifted to Brazil.

That several of them were recruited to influential positions in the government greatly facilitated my research. I also talked my way onto the United States mission to the ICO and attended meetings at which quotas were set.

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I felt as if I were again doing ethnography, but more in the style of, say, Richard Fenno than in the style of Elizabeth Colson. In the mornings, I worked on my coffee book. The book engaged the political and economic history of Colombia and Brazil.

By analyzing the origins of the ICO, it explored the economic and political origins of institutions. It offered a way of observing and explaining political variation across countries Bates It allowed me to venture into the fields of international relations and comparative politics. And it was a joy to write. Throughout the year at the Center, I periodically met with Avner Greif.

Talking with him, I could return to my experiences in Uganda and confront once again the phenomenon of violence. As a soldier in Lebanon, Avner too had seen children carrying AKs. He too knew the impact of conflict on human life.

He, Smita Singh, and I developed a formal model of violence, and its implications continue to unfold and to influence my work Bates et al. Avner and I were members of a team that had gathered to explore the use of case-study materials in the social sciences; its members also included Margaret Levi, Barry Weingast, and Jean-Laurent Rosenthal. I used ethnographic methods; my colleagues tended to use documentary materials; and we all shared a deep interest in history.


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  4. By performing case studies, we knew that we gained information of high quality but lost the advantages that accrue to those with large samples, particularly ones chosen randomly. How, using case studies, could we produce social science? By the end of the year, we were converging on answers to this question and beginning to produce a volume that advanced them Bates et al. Philip was a distinguished mathematician, and few were surprised when he was asked to become Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton—an offer that he quickly accepted.

    At roughly the same time, I was asked whether I would be interested in coming to Harvard. My appointment at the Harvard Institute for International Development HIID at the Kennedy School came with a budget that would allow me to purchase the materials I needed in order to catch up on what had been taking place in Africa since I had quit the continent.

    What FAS offered me was a bully pulpit. If taught in the core, a course bore the University's imprimatur; it had been judged by Harvard to be essential to a person's education. I was asked to prepare a course for the core and spent my first summer doing so. Harvard, as I was repeatedly told, did not do Africa and the course could not focus on the continent. I therefore prepared to teach a course that drew much of its material from the history of the advanced industrial nations. But I surreptitiously introduced materials about Africa. My hope was that undergraduates who took the course would leave Harvard thinking that Kenya, Zambia, and Ghana were as integral a part of their world as England, Germany, and France.

    I intended that Africa firmly lodge within the core of a Harvard education. My second goal was to use Harvard to alter the position of African studies in other universities.

    Politics, Academics, and Africa

    The problem lay at the demand side of the market, for insofar as institutions of higher learning supported African studies, most did so in order to promote diversity; the study of Africa had yet to be incorporated into mainstream departments. To produce such students, I had first to attract them. It turned out that Harvard was good at that.

    Then I had to support and train them.