S-WoPEc
 
Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics
HomeAboutSeriesSubject/JEL codesAdvanced Search
African Economic History Network African Economic History Working Paper, African Economic History Network

No 13/2013:
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the Evolution of Political Authority in West Africa

Warren C. Whatley ()

Abstract: I trace the impact of the trans-Atlantic slave trade on the evolution of political authority in West Africa. I present econometric evidence showing that the trans-Atlantic slave trade increased absolutism in pre-colonial West Africa by approximately 17% to 35%, while reducing democracy and liberalism. I argue that this slavery-induced absolutism also influenced the structure of African political institutions in the colonial era and beyond. I present aggregate evidence showing that British colonies that exported more slaves in the era of the slave trade were ruled more-indirectly by colonial administrations. I argue that indirect colonial rule relied on sub-national absolutisms to control populations and extract surplus, and in the process transformed absolutist political customs into rule of law. The post-colonial federal authority, like the colonial authority before it, lacked the administrative apparatus and political clout to integrate these local authorities, even when they wanted to. From this perspective, state-failure in West Africa may be rooted in a political and economic history that is unique to Africa in many respects, a history that dates at least as far back as the era of the transatlantic slave trade.

Keywords: Africa; slavery; trade; political authority; rule of law; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: N37; N47; N57; (follow links to similar papers)

35 pages, November 6, 2013

Download Statistics



Questions (including download problems) about the papers in this series should be directed to Erik Green ()
Report other problems with accessing this service to Sune Karlsson () or Helena Lundin ().

Programing by
Design by Joachim Ekebom

Handle: RePEc:hhs:afekhi:2013_013 This page was generated on 2015-11-12 08:44:26