Accepted paper:

Between Scylla and Carybdis: the World Bank's diplomacy in revolutionary Ethiopia, c.1973-1977.


Luca Puddu (University of Bologna)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses the relationship between the World Bank, Western governments and Ethiopia during the 1974-1977 revolution, showing the different approach of the Bank's central office in Washington DC and the regional mission in Eastern Africa towards nationalization of foreign capital

Paper long abstract:

In recent years, a growing literature has revealed the prominent role of the World Bank in the making of North-South relations during the Cold War. The relationship between the Bretton Woods organization and the Ethiopian ruling elite in the decade of the 1970s remains nonetheless largely unexplored, in spite of the fact that the World Bank was among the top-ranking donors of the Ethiopian state between 1969 and 1977. This paper aims to fill this gap through an analysis of the complex relationship between the World Bank, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the Ethiopian government during the troubled years of the revolution (1974-1977). In particular, the paper is focused on the negotiations between the World Bank and the Ethiopian government over the Grain Marketing Project, whose trajectory coincided with discussions between Addis Ababa and its former Western allies for compensation of foreign companies nationalized by the DERG. Archival sources partially confirm the hypothesis that the World Bank was a tool of Western donors to discipline the behaviour of "recalcitrant" allies in the Global South during the Cold War, but also show how the Bretton Woods organization's conduct was shaped by the multiple and sometime overlapping logics of different offices and individuals along the Bank's administrative hierarchy. Methodologically, the paper is based on grey literature and archival sources from the World Bank Group archives and the British archives at Kew Garden, and the U.S. Agricultural Library in Washington DC.

panel Econ26
The United Nations in Africa, and Africa in the UN: bureaucratic wrangling, translocal negotiations, and the politics of expertise