Category Archives: APE

The economy of Africa’s cities

When I started out in the 1960s, most of what anthropologists’ knew about African cities came from the Manchester school who worked in Central/Southern Africa, mainly in Northern Rhodesia (which became Zambia and was best known for the Copperbelt). Cities in this region had been largely built and were controlled by white settler regimes. The… Read More »

Africa’s urban revolution in the 20th century

This one is longer than usual, but it does contain the foundation of my book’s argument concerning how Africa arrived at the 21st century. In the spirit of blogging, I link it here to a piece in today’s FT by the Sudanese businessman Mo Ibrahim on the implications of his country’s impending breakup for Africa’s… Read More »

Africa in a convergent multi-polar world

Today’s Financial Times has a global economic analysis of considerable historical vision by Martin Wolf. He takes his key terms from Ken Pomeranz’s The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of the Modern World Economy (2000). Pomeranz argued that a major gap between China and the West opened up in the late 18th century.… Read More »

Full circle: Africa’s moment has come

Not long ago the same Polity Press that asked me to review Négrologie and contracted me to write my own book sent me another French book on Africa for possible translation, Le Temps de l’Afrique by Jean-Michel Severino and Olivier Ray. Severino was until recently Director-General of the French Development Agency. My review was positive… Read More »

The beginning: Négrologie

I live in Paris and for a long time I have reviewed French books for possible translation by British publishers. One of them was Stephen Smith’s Négrologie: pourquoi l’Afrique meurt for Polity Press in 2005. Smith’s book won public acclaim in France, as well as provoking an angry response in the form of the book… Read More »

South Africa needs Africa

The problem In Architects of Poverty (2009), Moeletsi Mbeki, brother of the recently deposed President, asks why Africans remain so poor compared with the rest of the world. He blames African political elites which from the days of slavery have enriched themselves at the expense of their own people by serving the interests of foreign… Read More »


The development of capitalism No-one can deny that the human presence on our planet has undergone remarkable development in the last two centuries. In 1800 the world’s population was around one billion. It had grown slowly over the previous 10,000 years since the invention of agriculture. Cipolla (1968) estimates that births regularly exceeded deaths by… Read More »