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The Africa Institute,Global Studies University, will host a two-day scholarly conference in commemoration of the life and work of the late Professor Thandika Mkandawire on November 15-17, 2024, in Sharjah, UAE.

The conference, titled ‘New Directions in African Political Economy,’ seeks to honor Thandika Mkandawire and reflect on the significance of his scholarship for African Political Economy today and in the future. The conference will feature 10 to 15 scholars, including colleagues and friends of Mkandawire, as well as emerging scholars whose work has been influenced by his scholarship.

The aim of the conference is to facilitate dialogue between the past, present, and future of African Political Economy, with Thandika Mkandawire’s life and scholarship as the focal point. Attendees will present papers on the general themes of Mkandawire’s life and intellectual interests, including African development and developmentalism, African Political Economy, industrialization in Africa, social policy in Africa, democracy in Africa, and more.

About Thandika Mkandawire

Thandika Mkandawire, who sadly passed away on March 27, 2020, is widely regarded as one of Africa’s most important political economists. Mkandawire’s prodigious scholarship, interdisciplinary in nature, focused on understanding the fundamental reasons for the African continent’s seemingly perpetual state of underdevelopment.

Drawing inspiration from a wide range of African and African diasporic thinkers, including Walter Rodney, Samir Amin, and Julius Nyerere, Mkandawire’s work wove a narrative that situated Africa’s development challenges within the wider context of colonialism and neocolonialism. He argued that Africa’s lack of development stemmed from its historical integration into a world system of exploitation and control, which continues in a more sophisticated form today.

In other words, Mkandawire saw Africa’s developmental challenges as largely the result of external factors, such as commodity price cycles or the outsized influence of the Bretton Woods institutions in Africa. This thesis ran contrary to that of many, mostly Western, economists whose ahistorical analyses placed the blame for Africa’s lack of development on Africans themselves. Despite his critical scholarship, Mkandawire was always a perpetual Afro-optimist. He not only provided a dignified analysis of the African condition, placing underdevelopment in its proper historical context, but also proposed policy solutions that centered African agency in the quest for development.

In addition to being a first-rate scholar, Thandika Mkandawire was an institution builder par excellence. He served as the third Executive Secretary of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) from 1985 to 1996. CODESRIA is the preeminent social science research network in Africa, and Mkandawire’s tenure coincided with a period of profound economic challenges for the African continent, its universities, and by extension, CODESRIA. He ably steered the organization through this tumultuous period, significantly contributing to the influence and prestige that CODESRIA continues to hold today. Following his time at CODESRIA, Mkandawire directed the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) in Switzerland and later assumed the Inaugural Chair in African Development at the London School of Economics.

Free admission.

The program agenda for this conference will be announced. Pre-register to attend.

The Africa Institute,Global Studies University, will host a two-day scholarly conference in commemoration of the life and work of the late Professor Thandika Mkandawire on November 15-17, 2024, in Sharjah, UAE.

The Africa Institute,Global Studies University, will host a two-day scholarly conference in commemoration of the life and work of the late Professor Thandika Mkandawire on November 15-17, 2024, in Sharjah, UAE.

The conference, titled ‘New Directions in African Political Economy,’ seeks to honor Thandika Mkandawire and reflect on the significance of his scholarship for African Political Economy today and in the future. The conference will feature 10 to 15 scholars, including colleagues and friends of Mkandawire, as well as emerging scholars whose work has been influenced by his scholarship.

The aim of the conference is to facilitate dialogue between the past, present, and future of African Political Economy, with Thandika Mkandawire’s life and scholarship as the focal point. Attendees will present papers on the general themes of Mkandawire’s life and intellectual interests, including African development and developmentalism, African Political Economy, industrialization in Africa, social policy in Africa, democracy in Africa, and more.

About Thandika Mkandawire

Thandika Mkandawire, who sadly passed away on March 27, 2020, is widely regarded as one of Africa’s most important political economists. Mkandawire’s prodigious scholarship, interdisciplinary in nature, focused on understanding the fundamental reasons for the African continent’s seemingly perpetual state of underdevelopment.

Drawing inspiration from a wide range of African and African diasporic thinkers, including Walter Rodney, Samir Amin, and Julius Nyerere, Mkandawire’s work wove a narrative that situated Africa’s development challenges within the wider context of colonialism and neocolonialism. He argued that Africa’s lack of development stemmed from its historical integration into a world system of exploitation and control, which continues in a more sophisticated form today.

In other words, Mkandawire saw Africa’s developmental challenges as largely the result of external factors, such as commodity price cycles or the outsized influence of the Bretton Woods institutions in Africa. This thesis ran contrary to that of many, mostly Western, economists whose ahistorical analyses placed the blame for Africa’s lack of development on Africans themselves. Despite his critical scholarship, Mkandawire was always a perpetual Afro-optimist. He not only provided a dignified analysis of the African condition, placing underdevelopment in its proper historical context, but also proposed policy solutions that centered African agency in the quest for development.

In addition to being a first-rate scholar, Thandika Mkandawire was an institution builder par excellence. He served as the third Executive Secretary of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) from 1985 to 1996. CODESRIA is the preeminent social science research network in Africa, and Mkandawire’s tenure coincided with a period of profound economic challenges for the African continent, its universities, and by extension, CODESRIA. He ably steered the organization through this tumultuous period, significantly contributing to the influence and prestige that CODESRIA continues to hold today. Following his time at CODESRIA, Mkandawire directed the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) in Switzerland and later assumed the Inaugural Chair in African Development at the London School of Economics.

Free admission.

The program agenda for this conference will be announced. Pre-register to attend.

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