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The causal history of Africa: A response to Hopkins

Fenske, James (2010): The causal history of Africa: A response to Hopkins.

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Abstract

In a recent paper for the Journal of African History, A.G. Hopkins writes that economists have spent the last decade writing a ``new'' economic history of Africa that has escaped the notice of historians. He labels the ``ethnolinguistic fractionalization'' and ``reversal of fortune'' theses as this literature's key insights. I argue that the most valuable contributions to the new economic history of Africa are not distinguished by their broad theories, but by their careful focus on causal inference. I survey recent contributions to this literature, contrast them with the ``old'' economic history of Africa, and revise Hopkins' advice to historians accordingly.

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