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Cultures of Innovation of the African Poor. Common Roots, Shared Traits, Joint Prospects? On the Articulation of Multiple Modernities in African Societies and Black Diasporas in Latin America


  • Dirk Kohnert

    () (GIGA Institute of African Affairs)


The globalized Western culture of innovation, as propagated by major aid institutions, does not necessarily lead to empowerment or improvement of the well-being of the stakeholders. On the contrary, it often blocks viable indigenous innovation cultures. In African societies and African Diasporas in Latin America, cultures of innovation largely accrue from the informal, not the formal sector. Crucial for their proper understanding is a threefold structural differentiation: between the formal and informal sector, within the informal sector, according to class, gender or religion, and between different transnational social spaces. Different innovation cultures may be complementary, mutually reinforcing, or conflicting, leading in extreme cases even to a ‘clash of cultures’ at the local level. The repercussions of competing, even antagonistic agencies of innovative strategic groups are demonstrated, analyzing the case of the African poor in Benin and the African Diasporas of Brazil and Haiti.

Suggested Citation

  • Dirk Kohnert, 2006. "Cultures of Innovation of the African Poor. Common Roots, Shared Traits, Joint Prospects? On the Articulation of Multiple Modernities in African Societies and Black Diasporas in Latin America," GIGA Working Paper Series 25, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:wpaper:25

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. ., 1994. "Institutional Agricultural Theory and Policy," Chapters,in: The Elgar Companion to Institutional and Evolutionary Economics, chapter 72 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Anonymous & Shang, Yung C. & Leung, PingSun, 1994. "Economics of Commercial Giant Clam Mariculture," Monographs, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, number 118691.
    3. Johan F. M. Swinnen, 1994. "A Positive Theory of Agricultural Protection," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 76(1), pages 1-14.
    4. Kohnert, Dirk, 1996. "Magic and witchcraft: Implications for democratization and poverty-alleviating aid in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(8), pages 1347-1355, August.
    5. Anonymous, 1994. "Contents of Agricultural Economics, Vol. 10," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 10(3), May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kohnert, Dirk, 2015. "Donor’s double talk undermines African agency : Comparative study of civic agency in Burkina Faso and Togo," EconStor Conference Papers 120921, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
    2. Kohnert, Dirk, 2010. "Are the Chinese in Africa More Innovative than the Africans? Comparing Chinese and Nigerian Entrepreneurial Migrants' Cultures of Innovation," EconStor Conference Papers 119528, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
    3. Kohnert, Dirk, 2010. "Drivers of change or cut-throat competitors? Challenging Cultures of Innovation of Chinese and Nigerian migrant entrepreneurs in West Africa," MPRA Paper 23132, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Kohnert, Dirk, 2006. "Vom Nutzen afrikanischer Zuwanderer für Europa. Wende in der EU-Einwanderungspolitik?
      [On the benefit of African immigration to Europe. Turn in the EU immigration policy?]
      ," MPRA Paper 1064, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Economic development; cultural change; innovations; social structure; African Diaspora; Benin; Brazil; Haiti;

    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics
    • E26 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Informal Economy; Underground Economy
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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