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date: 20 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Mainstream economists have promoted the idea of universally representative agents, which allows for simple modeling techniques to describe and predict human thinking and decision-making. Yet, there has been a debate in the economic literature on the existence of the rational “economic man” in Africa. The continent’s long history of oppression, its sub-optimal economic performance, and colonial fantasies, have contributed to the development of a discourse of otherness fed by prejudices. This chapter tackles some of these epistemological dilemmas and policy issues in that debate through a reconsideration of the basic principles of economics. A didactic approach is followed, popularized by Gregory Mankiw, and a list of ten principles different from the ones he proposed is produced. This chapter offers a series of counter-narratives to conventional economic thinking, and highlights how some of the recent developments in economics are consistent with analyses made in the study of Africa’s economic experience.

Keywords: Homo economicus in Africa, economic subjectivities, principles of economics, African productivity, poverty tradeoffs, economics of social interactions, sustainable industrialization

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