MA5. POLITICAL ECONOMY OF COMMODITY DEPENDENCE: Oil and Drugs in Venezuela and Colombia Compared
This course focuses on the political economy of resource dependence in developing countries, with a special focus on Venezuela and Colombia in comparative perspective. To what extent are natural resources a “curse?” This curse refers to the neo-structuralist idea that an abundance of natural resources is detrimental for development.
In the case of Venezuela, the key resources are oil and increasingly drugs, and in Colombia, drugs and increasingly oil. Some scholars argue that natural resource dependence distorts economic incentives (away from diversification) and harms politics (by facilitating corruption, raising the stakes of power-holding, increasing the chance for abuse of state power, weakening society’s capacity to hold the state accountable, and increasing the probability of civil strife).
To what extent do these claims help us understand the political economy of Venezuela and Colombia since the 1960s. To address this question, we will: 1) compare the resource-curse argument with other competing theories of development that might account for Venezuelan and Colombian politics; and 2) compare these cases with other cases in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
Form of instruction and assessment
During the course, different countries, topics and scholarly approaches are discussed. The seven sessions consist of a two-hour lecture and a working group session. Evaluation will be based on individual and class assignments and a final paper. The deadline for the final paper is 27 June 2017.
We will read excerpts from:
Collier, Paul (2007) The Bottom Billion. Oxford University Press.
Corrales, Javier and Michael Penfold (2015) Dragon in the Tropics: Venezuela and the Legacy of Hugo Chávez. Brookings Press.
And a number of short readings on drugs, Colombia, and Venezuela.