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A Clash of Disciplines? : Economists and Historians Approaching the African Past

Jerven, Morten LU (2011) In Economic History of Developing Regions 26(2). p.111-124
Abstract
This review article examines the differences in the approaches taken by economists and historians when interpreting social and economic change in the African past. It is argued that it is a mistake to assume that one discipline has supremacy over the other, let alone monopoly, when it comes to evaluating historical causes of African poverty. One of the shortcomings of the ‘New African Economic History’ is that it has largely sidestepped the issue of data quality. In cross-disciplinary work it is generally advised that data points and observations should roughly cohere with the state of knowledge in the other disciplines. Economists do themselves a disservice if the only criteria they consider for ‘robustness’ of historical arguments are... (More)
This review article examines the differences in the approaches taken by economists and historians when interpreting social and economic change in the African past. It is argued that it is a mistake to assume that one discipline has supremacy over the other, let alone monopoly, when it comes to evaluating historical causes of African poverty. One of the shortcomings of the ‘New African Economic History’ is that it has largely sidestepped the issue of data quality. In cross-disciplinary work it is generally advised that data points and observations should roughly cohere with the state of knowledge in the other disciplines. Economists do themselves a disservice if the only criteria they consider for ‘robustness’ of historical arguments are those pertaining to econometric methods. (Less)
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author
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Africa, causal History, N01
in
Economic History of Developing Regions
volume
26
issue
2
pages
14 pages
publisher
Taylor & Francis
ISSN
2078-0397
DOI
10.1080/20780389.2011.625244
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
10790444-8f2c-45e8-8075-e629e8fecf7f
date added to LUP
2017-06-16 05:04:37
date last changed
2017-06-26 15:26:36
@article{10790444-8f2c-45e8-8075-e629e8fecf7f,
  abstract     = {This review article examines the differences in the approaches taken by economists and historians when interpreting social and economic change in the African past. It is argued that it is a mistake to assume that one discipline has supremacy over the other, let alone monopoly, when it comes to evaluating historical causes of African poverty. One of the shortcomings of the ‘New African Economic History’ is that it has largely sidestepped the issue of data quality. In cross-disciplinary work it is generally advised that data points and observations should roughly cohere with the state of knowledge in the other disciplines. Economists do themselves a disservice if the only criteria they consider for ‘robustness’ of historical arguments are those pertaining to econometric methods.},
  author       = {Jerven, Morten},
  issn         = {2078-0397},
  keyword      = {Africa,causal History,N01},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {111--124},
  publisher    = {Taylor & Francis},
  series       = {Economic History of Developing Regions},
  title        = {A Clash of Disciplines? : Economists and Historians Approaching the African Past},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/20780389.2011.625244},
  volume       = {26},
  year         = {2011},
}