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Cursed resources, or articulations of economic theory in the Gulf of Guinea

Weszkalnys, Gisa (2011) Cursed resources, or articulations of economic theory in the Gulf of Guinea. Economy and Society, 40 (3). pp. 345-372. ISSN 1469-5766

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Abstract

Economic experiments, or attempts to shape national and local economies with the help of economic theory, have been typical of post-war development efforts. Economic sociologists have explored the role of such experiments to demonstrate how economics – as a set of practices, ideas and technologies – enacts its worlds. This paper examines one such case of high-powered economic theory and its enactment in an emergent West African oil economy by focusing on economist Jeffrey Sachs's advisory project in São Tomé and Príncipe. It pivots on the ‘resource curse’, an economic device that has recently gained purchase in global policy circles. This paper argues that economic devices are not simply imposed on pre-arranged worlds. Instead, they collide with and adjust to already existing politico-economic and socio-cultural conditions, resulting in complex articulations. Drawing on ethnographic material, I critique the ability of the resource curse to make sense fully of apprehensions of the past, present and future consequences of extractive industry developments. Contrasting economic accounts of an incipient curse with competing and complementary local accounts of the effects of oil wealth, I propose a new model for the sociological analysis of the variety of articulations into which an economic device, such as the curse, may enter.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/reso20
Additional Information: © 2011 Taylor & Francis
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Sets: Departments > Anthropology
Rights: http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/usingTheLibrary/academicSupport/OA/depositYourResearch.aspx
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2012 12:41
URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/46219/

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