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Continental Visions: Ann Seidman, Reginald H. Green, and the Economics of African Unity in 1960s Ghana

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  • Gerardo Serra

Abstract

The paper presents the history of the contribution of two American economists to a radical cause: the establishment of a socialist and politically united Africa. The setting is 1960s Ghana which under Kwame Nkrumah, the man who led the country to independence from British colonial rule, emerged as the epicentre of this Pan-African vision. Ann Seidman and Reginald H. Green became, as members of the research team on ‘The Economics of African Unity’ established at the University of Ghana in 1963, the most sophisticated and systematic advocates of Nkrumah’s economic argument for continental planning and political union. The paper argues that Green and Seidman’s support for Pan- Africanism was rooted in an attempt to question radically the applicability of mainstream economic theory to African conditions, and find an alternative framework to conceptualise African trade, institutions and economic integration. Ultimately the vision associated with Nkrumah and economists like Green and Seidman failed to gain any significant political legitimacy and ended in 1966 with Nkrumah’s overthrow. Yet, it is argued that the story of the ‘economics of African unity’ is a useful departure point to deepen our understanding of the relationship between economics and political imagination in postcolonial Africa.

Suggested Citation

  • Gerardo Serra, 2014. "Continental Visions: Ann Seidman, Reginald H. Green, and the Economics of African Unity in 1960s Ghana," Center for the History of Political Economy Working Paper Series 2014-8, Center for the History of Political Economy.
  • Handle: RePEc:hec:heccee:2014-8
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    Keywords

    Ann Seidman; Reginald H. Green; Ghan a; Pan-Africanism; Kwame Nkrumahn;

    JEL classification:

    • B24 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Socialist; Marxist; Scraffian
    • B29 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Other
    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • P41 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Planning, Coordination, and Reform

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