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    Sugar and uneven development: a comparative historical analysis of class and state-formation in Mauritius and Jamaica

    Andrieu, Kieran Isaac Fabien (2022) Sugar and uneven development: a comparative historical analysis of class and state-formation in Mauritius and Jamaica. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Adorned with similar, generous preferential trading arrangements with powerful actors in the Global North, both post-colonial, resource-dependent island states built on sugar production in the shadow of the British empire –Mauritius and Jamaica’s economies performed very differently in the post-independence period, with profound implications for both societies. Unlike assessments of contemporary Mauritian and Jamaican development that privilege post-independence and synchronic variables, this thesis argues that deep comparative reappraisals of each country’s colonial history offer the best explanation for their later divergence. Faced with unique challenges, situated historical actors in Mauritius and Jamaica sought and secured supports from the British colonial state that set each country on a distinct path to development. Circumstances in Mauritius conspired to generate broad-based institution-building over a century and a half, while parallel circumstances in Jamaica forestalled comparable institution-building and legitimacy. These processes were heavily path-dependent, creating advantage and handicap as both states matured and were finally integrated into an uneven capitalist system following sovereign independence in the 1960s. Mauritius’ ‘anomalously strong’ institutions and the social and political capital and equity they fostered were direct legacies of the colonial era, and enabled the newly-independent Mauritius to better manage, leverage, and offset pressures borne by decolonisation, capitalist integration, and globalisation, in a turn of events dubbed ‘the Mauritian Miracle’ by observers. Meanwhile, in Jamaica, chronic ‘growth without development’ unfolded for significant periods of British colonial rule, detrimentally impacting the Caribbean island’s state and institutional capabilities, its elite legitimacy and coherence, and its ability to externalise or distribute the costs of competitive capitalist integration while capturing its potential benefits after independence. Both states were built originally on sugar; both were monocrop, monoculture, and plantation economies for much of their early histories. But while Mauritius was able to successfully diversify its economy into textiles, tourism, and finance in the post-independence period while simultaneously protecting stakeholders in its dwindling sugar industry, Jamaica’s comparatively weak state-and societal institutions struggled to underwrite and guide similar sectorial diversification and development. This project offers three main contributions to its field. First, it illustrates abstract uneven capitalist development with case study-specific, deep-historical, and empirical research. Second, it addresses a ‘chronofetishist’ tendency in the literature around Mauritius, Jamaica, and some mainstream development discourse. Third, it generates conceptual insights in the form of ‘heterodox primitive accumulation’ and ‘bicephalous elitism’, which build on existing theory to describe causally impactful processes in Mauritian and Jamaican history.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 12 May 2022 15:38
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 15:34


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