Entrepreneurship, Criminality and Tipping Points: Clandestine Trade in East and West Africa



6:00 pm - 7:30 pm



Abstract: This seminar explores shifting practices in African clandestine economies, with a particular focus on shifts of informal business activities into or out of criminality.  Previously condemned as products of clientism and corruption, African clandestine economies are attracting renewed interest for their developmental potential in weak state contexts.  Focusing on examples of clandestine cross-border trade in East and West Africa, this seminar examines the factors that shape the character of clandestine trading activities, and may trigger their tipping the economy into or out of criminality.  We will also examine the ways in which ideological perspectives tend to gloss over the actual processes at play, representing dynamic and peaceful clandestine economies in much of West Africa as criminal, while celebrating as developmental more violent and socially disruptive Eastern African clandestine trading complexes centered on the Great Lakes Region.