Anyone familiar with Iliffeâ€™s history of the continent, Africans, wonâ€™t be particularly surprised at this. It is quite an exciting prospect though: historically Africaâ€™s internal transport links, internal trade and specialization were limited by the sparse population. It might alsoÂ be that the development of agrarian capitalism has also been limited by low densities of population. As Lee points out, we need to disaggregate further down than â€˜Africaâ€™ to individual countries and even districts, but this could be quite significant.
Of course, the counter-argument is that population densities have been increasing for a while without accompanying economic transformation. Perhaps the impact is mediated by other, missing, factors; perhaps densities need to cross a threshold in a specifically locally distributed manner to have an effect; or maybe they just donâ€™t matter that much.
2) I came across this bio of Chea Mony through the Grauniadâ€™s Achievements in International Development Awards. Heâ€™s a labour activist who, according to this short bio, has achieved pretty remarkable improvements in the standard of living for Cambodian textiles workers.
This is a topic close to my heart (and was the subject of my postgrad thesis). Iâ€™m a firm believer that responsible collective action by labour can alleviate the harsher aspects of the transition to capitalism, which is something labour tends to have a mixed experience of: better wages accompanied by terrible conditions.
Do any readers know anything about Mony, or know where I can learn more? Iâ€™d be particularly grateful for a heads up on any academic or semi-academic studies of the union movement itself.
3) Through Bill Easterlyâ€™s Twitter feed, I came across this article. The article itself isnâ€™t very insightful, though the headline is great. It includes a line in it, though, that did make me think:
â€¦bad ideas have the tendency of contaminating good ones faster than the good ones can cleanse the badâ€¦
Is this true, or does it just seem that way because we notice and shout about the bad ideas?