|The TG “Political Economy of the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa” refers to an old intellectual tradition going back to 18th and 19th century philosophers/economists such as A. Smith and D. Ricardo. Ricardo defined political economy as “the distribution of income, wealth and power over the different groups in society”. In Ricardo’s time, it was an endeavour to analyse and explain the political and social struggles that led to the differential economic status of social groups. Meanwhile, the expansion of capitalism to a globe-encompassing world-system and the critical debate in the human sciences have largely altered both the object and the understandings of political economy.
A very fruitful synthesis of this evolution is to be found in the “institutional school” that tries to incorporate historical insights as well as the necessity to transcend disciplinary borders in the human sciences. The interplay of state, society and market, the conflicts between and within these fields and their possible resolutions are granted large attention. Although this field of study was from the onset located at the intersection of political economy and sociology, it has incorporated insights from other disciplines. Development studies have been undergoing a similar evolution.
This TG tries to apply these intellectual traditions to the developments in Sub-Sahara Africa and more specifically in the Great Lakes Region. Both the interdisciplinarity and the geographical scope are its defining traits. They allow to study transformation processes at different scales, stretching from local development experiences over regional conflicts to global linkages. As the countries of the Great Lakes Region are witnessing different stages of conflict and reconstruction, the research agenda can be captured under the title “From conflict to inclusive development”.
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