Two new publications to challenge conventional views of African histories

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Upcoming works by Cambridge historians will re-examine assumptions on African economies

Two significant publications on the economic histories of African nations will be published this autumn. In Capitalism in the Colonies: African Merchants in Lagos, 1851–1931 (Princeton UP, 2024), A. G. Hopkins provides the first substantial assessment of the fortunes of African entrepreneurs under colonial rule. This account – from the Emeritus Smuts Professor of Commonwealth History – challenges the conventional views of the contribution made by indigenous entrepreneurs to the long-run economic development of Nigeria.

Professor Hopkins argues that African merchants in Lagos not only survived, but were also responsible for key innovations in trade, construction, farming, and finance that are essential for understanding the historical development of Nigeria’s economy.

Dr Bronwen Everill – Director of the Centre of African Studies – is the author of Africonomics: A History of Western Ignorance (HarperCollins UK, 2024). Dr Everill argues that Western interventions to ‘fix’ African economies fail because they start from a misguided premise: that African economies just need to be more like the West.

Ignoring Africa's own traditions of economic thought, Europeans and Americans assumed a set of universal economic laws that could be applied anywhere. By laying bare the myths and realities of our tangled economic history, Africonomics moves from Western ignorance to African knowledge.

Both books are available for pre-order.