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Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences – Department History

Department of Economic and Social History – Prof. Dr. Jan-Otmar Hesse & Prof. Dr. Sebastian Teupe

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DAAD-Professor African Economic History

From the summer semester 2021 until the end of the winter semester 2022/23, the DAAD guest chair in ‘African Economic History’ will be established at the University of Bayreuth. The position is a part of the DAAD guest lecturer program enabling several guest Lecturers to be invited to the University of Bayreuth for a period of two years for stays of up to four months each. In recent times, the economic history of Africa has been extensively debated especially in the light of research findings by development economists like: Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. At the ‘Africa Multiple’ cluster of excellence, a new research and teaching focus in economic history is available as the University of Bayreuth offers a unique environment for the reception of debates in the African economic history field.

The goal of the guest professorship is a medium-term expansion of the range of courses to include topics from African economic and corporate history, which should enable the further development of the curriculum of one or more courses and significantly increase its scope and attractiveness. Specifically, the range of courses for the Master’s degree are: ‘History & Economics’, ‘Global History’ and ‘Development Studies.’ However, there are also offers for BA students studying, ‘Cultures and Society of Africa’, ‘International Economy and Development’ and ‘Philosophy & Economics’ in order to inspire interest from various academic contexts in the study and research of African History. In general, the goal of the visiting professorship is to better integrate two of the University’s very successful programs – History & Economics, and African studies. 

The Guest Lecturers

George Bob-Milliar (Ghana) Summer Semester 2021 (May – July) 

Dr. George M. Bob-Milliar (Kumasi / Ghana) is an expert in the field of the economic history of West Africa. He is also a co-editor of the journal of “African Economic History”, one of the most important journals in African economic history. In this role, he worked as editor of a special issue for the journal on the history of West Africa. His second research interest lies in the area of development studies and in particular the development of the political party system.

Bob-Milliar will also give a Lecture on west African economic history for all students, some of which will be integrated into the compulsory course of the History and Economics course “Foundations of Economic History II: Global Economy.” Furthermore, he will offer a seminar on ‘Capitalism in the pre-colonial and colonial Asante state’ in the ‘Advanced Development Sociology/Politics’ module at the ‘Development Studies’ Master’s course which can also be studied by students from the ‘Global History’ Master’s program. Bob-Milliar also offers a seminar on the ‘History of Poverty in Africa’ for the Bachelor’s degree programs.

Morten Jerven (Norway) Winter Semester 2021/2022 (Expected) (October-February)

The second guest Lecturers is Morten Jerven from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) and will focus on economic growth and development in Africa, especially on the problems of measurement. While most ‘industrialized countries’ have had national accounts since World war II and at least reliable estimates for the period since the 18th century, this is not the case for many African countries. Therefore, there are numerous misunderstandings and misinterpretations in the economic history of Africa. Morten Jerven masterfully shows this in his monograph ‘Poor Numbers.’ Another focus of his research is on the financial history of African countries. 

The themes of the research by Morten Jerven are linked to the first guest Lecturer however, with a focus on the methodological problems and challenges of African economic history. For example, the Lecturer offers a lecture on the history of determining the gross national product in Africa and a Master’s seminar on the development and measurement of poverty. His research remains particularly important and relevant because much of the more recent economic historical research on Africa is produced through the use of a variety of statistical methods, which often times require considerable reflection.

Moten Jerven’s (Norway) research is also thematically linked to the first guest Lecturer however, with a focus on the methodological problems and challenges of African economic history. For example, the lecturer offers a course on the history of determining the gross national product in Africa and a Master’s seminar on the development and measurement of poverty. Because much of the more recent economic-historical research on Africa is produced through the use of statistical methods, critical reflection on this seems particularly important.

Ayodeji Olukoju (Lagos/Nigeria) Summer Semester 2022

Prof. Olukoju is an expert in the history of African international sea trade and African corporate history. In particular, he researched the development of the large seaports in West Africa and the trade in goods carried out in them. In the area of corporate history, his research deals with the development of the palm oil industry in Nigeria and published an article on this in the ‘Journal of Global History.’ He has also worked extensively on the condition and transmission of history of colonial archives, an expertise that is particularly valuable for the visiting professor with regard to teaching methods.

Prof. Olukoju contributes two new aspects to the guest chair. First, his research highlights Africa’s contact areas with the global economy. Therefore, he will offer a lecture on the history of ports and maritime trade in West Africa in the 19th and early 20th centuries, which will also be partially integrated into the lecture ‘Foundations II / III: Global Economy’. Furthermore, Olukoju offers the seminar ‘The Political Economy of Decolonization and Nation Building in West Africa’ for all three Master’s programs, which deals with economic policy concepts and their advocates during the decolonization period. He will also offer an introduction to African corporate history. Furthermore, by participating in the ‘Historical Methods in Economic History,’ Prof. Olukoju makes his expertise in the field of African archiving available to interested students especially in the History and Economics Master’s program.

Grietjie Verhoef (Johannesburg/Südafrika) Wintersemester 2022/23

Prof. Verhoef is an expert in the field of African corporate history, in particular the history of African banking and insurance. Specifically, she has also published on historical saving and the history of saving and thrift. Her research is also concerned with the investigation and construction of economic statistics. In particular, Verhoef reconstructed South Africa's gross national product from 1850-1910. Her experience in this field is of great importance, especially for the students of the master's degree in ‘History & Economics’.

Prof. Verhoef expands the focus on ‘African Company History’, which was developed by the third lecturer. In addition, the lecturer gives a lecture on the history of money and financial institutions in Africa, which is partially integrated into the compulsory course of the History & Economics course ‘Foundations of Economic History III: State and Institutions’. In addition, she offers a seminar on the history of management, culture and internationalization of African companies, which is included as a section in the elective module ‘Advanced International Economy’ of the Development Studies course. In addition, the fourth visiting professor builds on the preparatory work of the second visiting professor by teaching methods for analyzing African economic statistics. Therefore, the lecturer will offer her own Master’s seminar, which will be partially integrated into the corresponding method seminars of the ‘History & Economics’ and ‘Global History’ courses.

Webmaster: Univ.Prof.Dr. Jan-Otmar Hesse

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