The colonial roots of commodity dependence 
Sophie van Huellen (University of Manchester)
Victoria Stadheim (University of Hertfordshire)
Helena Perez Nino (ISS Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Sara Stevano (SOAS University of London)
Send message to Convenors
Format :
Paper panel
Stream :
Decolonisation and development
Transfer :
Open for transfers

Short Abstract:

The rootedness of commodity dependence in colonialism has been theorised in dependency scholarship and documented in recent empirical studies. Yet, the mechanisms through which colonial structures persist are not well understood. This panel invites papers that explore these mechanisms over time.

Long Abstract:

What countries export and to whom matters for their growth patterns, GDP per capita, and crisis vulnerability (Abdon et al., 2010; Felipe and Kumar, 2011; Storm and Naastepad, 2015; Akyüz and Paolo, 2017). Dependency scholarship theorised that the origins of commodity dependence are rooted in colonialism and the associated international division of labour (Amin, 1972). Recent empirical studies have documented a strong degree of persistence in export production capabilities across two eras of globalisation: 1897-1906 and 1998-2007 (Weber et al., 2021). Moreover, the ‘Africa rising’ narrative has been countered by the finding that recent growth dynamism in African countries was driven by primary commodity price cycles (Sylla 2014). Although the primary commodities that are being produced and the trading destinations for these might differ today from what they were during colonial times, many former colonies have been unable to sustain substantive processes of structural transformation to shift their exports away from dependence on extractive industries and primary commodities. Yet, the mechanisms through which colonial patterns of export specialisation are reproduced and persist into the present are not well understood. This panel invites papers that investigate the extent to which commodity (agricultural output, minerals and metals) export dependence is rooted in colonialism and that work towards identifying the mechanisms that reproduce these structures over time. The panel is particularly interested in papers that explore the historical trajectories of colonialism in Africa, Asia, and Latin America through the lens of trade, labour, class, capital, banking, finance, and the state at different scales.

Accepted papers:

Session 1
Session 2
Session 3
Session 4