Project title: Genomic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa
The geography of the global economy has been profoundly transformed in recent decades as manufacturing has increasingly shifted to the global South. Many Southern cities and regions sought to benefit from the “new international division of labour” by attracting foreign investment. In their efforts to lure foreign investors, policy makers commonly demarcated special economic zones and export processing zones wherein favourable tax regimes were complemented by lax environmental and labour standards. Development was envisioned as a multi-stage process in which territory was readied, investment was subsequently attracted and local firms ultimately “moved up” global value chains. In many instances these attempts to “strategically couple” cities/regions with global production networks failed because investment never materialized or did not result in beneficial spillover effects. Given these challenges policy makers in many cities/regions in the global South increasingly seek to attract foreign investment for massive infrastructure projects that transform territory and simultaneously integrate cities/regions into global production networks. I refer to this as genomic development because instead of a two-step process of territorial transformation and development, the transformation of territory is meant to integrate cities/regions into the DNA of the global economy. In this research project I examine genomic development in Tanzania, and I ask how domestic industries and cities are impacted by their sudden incorporation into global production networks.
The RSA EC grant allowed me to expand my knowledge about Tanzania, as well as my professional network. In 2018, I was awarded a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council to research deindustrialization in three cities in the Global South, one of which was Dar es Salaam. One of the Co-Investigators on that grant was Prof. Deusdedit Rwehumbiza, from the University of Dar es Salaam. I would not have been able to draft a convincing proposal that included Dar es Salaam, nor would I have had the contacts, if it weren’t for the RSA EC grant. Thus, I can honestly say that this grant was transformative for my career.