African History through the lens of Economics

A new initiative to be launched by the Wheeler Institute for Business and Development

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Much of what has written about political, economic, and social development across Africa fails to reckon with the complexities of the continent’s often difficult past, dating back to extractive colonisation, artificial borders, enslavement, precolonial political institutions and social norms. And few tertiary and postgraduate courses familiarise students with the recent and growing literature on the impact of Africa’s history on contemporary development that appears first-order.

The Wheeler Institute for Business and Development at London Business School is launching an interdisciplinary, open-access 10-week lecture series, featuring leading experts across economics, history, political science, cultural anthropology, business and psychology to provide a forum of dialogue across disciplines.

Elias Papaioannou of London Business School, Leonard Wantchekon of Princeton University and the African School of Economics, Nathan Nunn of Harvard University, and Stelios Michalopoulos of Brown University will lead a 11-week lecture series for students, scholars, and professionals interested in economic development in sub-Saharan Africa.

This lecture series, African History through the lens of Economics, will cover most major aspects of African history: precolonial statehood, Africa’s slave trades, the Scramble for Africa, colonization and independence movements, the Cold War, and conclude with a discussion of the continent’s bright future. The series will also cover recent contributions in economic history and African development that, using geospatial data from anthropological maps, colonial archives and secondary sources, will explore current economic and development challenges by drawing parallels between the past and present.

Additionally to the main sessions, there will also be supplementary lectures and plenary sessions, where leading and younger scholars spanning across all social sciences, many from Africa, will present interdisciplinary research, being a key objective of the initiative to start tearing down the wall between Western thinking about the continent, often biased and incomplete, with the viewpoint of Africans, whose voice is not as frequently heard.

The lectures will take place on Tuesdays (main lectures) and Wednesdays (special lectures and plenary sessions), from 10am ET / 3pm GMT for 10 weeks starting on 1st February.

Date: 1 February 2022 – 13 April 2022

Time: Tuesday & Wednesday @ 10am ET / 3pm GMT (minor variations do occur)

Format: This series will be delivered virtually (Zoom) and is open access. Recordings will be available following each session on

Click here for more information.

Click here to register for the lecture series.