Global Histories of National Development in Africa, Latin America, and South Asia

AHA Session 5
National History Center of the American Historical Association 1
Thursday, January 7, 2016: 1:00 PM-3:00 PM
Grand Hall D (Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Lower Level 2)
David C. Engerman, Brandeis University
Amy C. Offner, University of Pennsylvania

Session Abstract

This panel explores how the simultaneous phenomena of economic nationalism and global integration shaped the “Third World” in the postwar period. By reconciling the perspectives of global and national/regional history, these four papers seek to surmount the unidirectional connotations that frequently characterise analyses of North-South exchanges. That is, while engaging with imperial, Cold War, and ideological narratives, as well those of global integration and foreign aid, the papers also take advantage of diverse research agendas in order to highlight “South-South” dynamics. Collectively, the panel will provide an integrated rather than purely comparative perspective—one that will speak to our understanding of globalisation in the industrialised world, too.

The papers also share an interest in the ways that the comparatively narrow strata of experts, policymakers, the intelligentsia and (often nascent) bureaucracies constructed the “national economy” in conceptual, symbolic, and institutional terms. Experts have played a prominent role in the history of international development and modernization. As agents of modernity, social scientists, engineers, and diplomats mobilize ideas and plans in the pursuit of economic development. This panel analyzes national experts and intellectuals in their own terms, highlighting their perceived understanding as global citizens, political brokers, and economic agents.  Far from deferential or compliant, the struggles of Sudanese bureaucrats, Brazilian and Chilean policymakers, Algerian statesmen, and Indian experts illustrate how the reconciliation of national goals and global trends was at the core of their endeavours. The use of local, national, and international archives substantiates methodologically the aforementioned conceptual claims. Overall, the panel provides different but complementary paths to the task of writing global histories of national development.

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