Conclusion: Where my data goes

32 counties’ data sets on settler population are complete (just a few more await me in the Fall). So what now? My data on settler populations taken from pre-independence colonial records will be used to create the first-of-its-kind comprehensive geospatial dataset on the economic footprint of colonialism across 36+ African countries. My teammates trained in the art of GIS (geographical information system), will use my geo-coded sub-national locations (town, region, district, province, etc) will create these GIS maps that show for each country where settler population densities were located and we hope that in the end, they will not line up with areas with high development now based on high colonial expenditure then. What do these have in common? Well based on development/colonial literature, many believe settler population from the metropole affects development. Basically, the metropole government will always take care of their own. If a lot of settlers settle in Accra, Ghana for example, then the development there will be better then surrounding areas. We want this to be disproved as a means of supporting our own theory that development now stems from a path dependent effect that cash crops had on the areas in which they were cultivated. This means that in Ghana, for example, the Cocoa Coast should have the highest development ratings. With this control done, we have more to move on to in order to eliminate all other possibilities!

Blog 3: Portuguese, Italian, Spanish and French…oh my!

Languages. There are roughly 6,500 spoken languages in the world today. When the colonial powers entered Africa, they brought theirs with them. The British put into place English-speaking institutions in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Somaliland, Tanzania, Sudan, etc. The French put into place French-speaking institutions into West Africa and Equatorial Africa. The Portuguese put into place Portuguese-speaking institutions in Mozambique, Angola, Sao Tome e Principe, and Ginea-Bissau. The Spanish put into place Spanish-speaking institutions in Equatorial Guinea and the Italians in Somalia.

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Blog 2: How Geocoding Works

Everyday I walk to Swem and sit at a desk and stare at a pile of Censuses. The most exciting part is that none of them are names Zimbabwe or Malawi or Ghana. Because these censuses are pre-independence and during colonialism the British, the Belgium, the Portuguese and the French and Spaniards gave some places different names then what we are used to. Ghana was the Gold Coast, Zimbabwe was Southern Rhodesia, Malawi was Nyasaland. Look at the picture posted below. You may not be able to tell but what I need from them is the European (Non-Native) population and the African (Native) population per colony, province/region (better known to data mapping nerds as ADM1, meaning Administrative Division 1–the second largest geographical division after the colony/country), region/district (ADM2–the second largest division), town/village (ADM3–the third largest division), and some include subdivisions/suburbs/wards (ADM4). Every colony separates its ADMs differently. Ghana, for example, goes: colony, province (Ashanti, Coast (West/East), Northern Territories  and (parts) Togoland), and town. As does the DRC (formerly Zaire). Here below, Southern Rhodesia is separated by district, town, suburb. Northern Rhodesia the other hand is divided by province, district, town.

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Blog 1: How flexible can you be for research?

If I could describe the word “research” in one word anything but static comes to mind. The thing about research is that it’s variable. You go in with one plan and end up working on a completely other plan. And that’s exactly what happened with my research. I came in with a plan to look into the Pre-Colonial Kingdom hypothesis and planned to systematically study the 50 most centralized groups at the time of colonialism in order to better understand the strategic interactions between them and the European imperial powers to unravel exactly how pre-colonial kingdoms shaped colonial policy as a part of a bigger project on spatial inequality. However, my team needed me for something else and as a team member on this project I had to be flexible to the needs of the project. Up until the summer I had tabulated the Non-Native population of each Sub-Saharan. Why? Because there’s a theory in colonial literature that says the greater the settler population (European/Non-native population) the more development funds (for public works, infrastructure) are spent by the metropolis to take care of them. So a high settler population in an area is beveled to coincide with the area that has the most development.

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Spatial Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa

African states regularly rank as some of the least developed countries in the world. A closer look within the borders of each state, however, unveils a rather different story; there exists significant subnational variation in levels of development (Migdal 1988; Herbst 2000; Boone 2003; van de Walle 2009). For example, while many parts of Nigeria, including northeastern Nigeria where the terrorist organization, Boko Haram is active, may rank in the bottom quintile in the world in terms of access to public services, other parts of the country rank near the top. This spatial inequality is not unique to Nigeria but prevalent across sub-Saharan Africa. Such spatial inequality is a fact that has plagued these nations in more ways than one. Envy for the lifestyle of those who are better off can ignite anger and in some cases ultimately leads to conflict, terrorism, and eventual state failure (Stewart 2008; Østby 2008; Østby et al. 2009; Cederman et al. 2011; Cederman et al. 2013).

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