West African Economic Networks: Combining Historical and Geographical Approaches


CALL: 2012

DOMAIN: SC - Social and Economic Cohesion


LAST NAME: Walther




KEYWORDS: geography, history, economic networks, social networks, space, development policies, West Africa

START: 2013-01-01

END: 2013-06-30

WEBSITE: https://www.liser.lu/

Submitted Abstract

Over the last 30 years, two different bodies of literature developed by U.S. historians mainly based at Rutgers University and francophone geographers mainly based in France and Luxembourg have reached similar conclusions regarding West African economic networks. Despite their different backgrounds, both the ‘spatial factor’ promoted by historians and the ‘mobile space’ approach developed by geographers view markets as nodes of transnational trade networks and places in production territories, and perceive spatial development in West Africa as highly dependent on shifts of trade flows and production activities. Until now these approaches have remained separate.The first objective of the West African Economic Networks (WANETS) project is to bring the history and geography approaches together. The seconded fellow will spend the first three months of his stay at the Center for African Studies at Rutgers University, New Jersey, where he will work in collaboration with Prof. Allen Howard, the key proponent of the ‘spatial factor’ approach in African history. This collaboration will valorize and disseminate the data collected in the CROSSTRADE project on Informal Trade and Cross-Border Integration in West Africa currently funded by the National Research Fund of Luxembourg (FNR). By bringing together two core researchers from each scholarly tradition this research will explore the intersections of these approaches to develop a comprehensive theory of African economic networks.The second objective of the WANETS project is to write a joint scientific proposal to be submitted to both the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Research Fund of Luxembourg (FNR) under its INTER Programme. The proposal will be elaborated during the last three months of the project. The proposed project is a follow-up of the research conducted within the CROSSTRADE project and between Prof. Allen Howard from Rutgers University and the seconded fellow. It will ultimately contribute to the establishment of a long-term scientific competency on development at CEPS/INSTEAD in Luxembourg that will benefit both the research community and development agencies.

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