Cash Crops, Print Technologies, and the Politicization of Ethnicity in Africa

American Political Science Review Vol/Iss. 116(1) Cambridge University Press Published In Pages: 181-199
By Pengl, Yannick I., Roessler, Philip, Rueda, Valeria


How have ethnopolitical landscapes transformed across Africa? The authors of this article analyze how ethnic identities have been influenced by two major socioeconomic revolutions of 19th and 20th century sub-Saharan Africa: cash crops and print technologies. They found that ethnic identities, through the means of politicization and boundary-making, had become more salient and politically relevant in communities where cash crops and print technologies were present. Furthermore, areas with cash crops and subsequent agricultural zones were found to have stricter ethnic boundaries and less interethnic marriage than areas with more print publications.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
EthnologueOther researchersReference source of living languages used to create a list of nominal ethnic categories by the authors.
Afrobarometer SurveyOther researchersUsed rounds 3-6 which asked respondents whether they more often identify in ethnic or in national terms.
Ethnic Power Relations (EPR)Other researchersIdentifies all politically relevant ethnic groups and their access to state power.
Roessler et al. (2020) geospatial datasetOther researchersData on the primary commodity revolution in Africa which references a historical map produced by Hance, Kotschar, and Peterec (1961).
Rowling and Wilson (1923) compilation of publicationsOther researchersCompilation of 2,480 publications across 168 languages.
Mann and Sanders (1994) catalogueOther researchersCatalogues collections of African language texts.
USAID Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS)Other researchersData on ethnic exogamy.
Politically Relevant Ethnic Groups (PREG)Other researchersPosner (2004)

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