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Ecology, trade and states in pre-colonial Africa

Fenske, James (2010): Ecology, trade and states in pre-colonial Africa.

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Abstract

I test Bates' view that trade across ecological divides promoted the development of states in pre-colonial Africa. My main result is that sub-Saharan societies in ecologically diverse environments had more centralized pre-colonial states. I use spatial variation in rainfall to control for possible endogeneity. I construct artificial societies and present narrative evidence to show the results are not due to conquest of trading regions. I also test mechanisms by which trade may have caused states, and find that trade supported class stratification between rulers and ruled.

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