Magazine article New Internationalist

Cycles of History, Chains of Dependency

Magazine article New Internationalist

Cycles of History, Chains of Dependency

Article excerpt

Who's heard of Harold Adams Innis? Put up your hand! Not many, I see. Well, no surprise there. The Canadian academic died in 1952 and his most influential work (on the fur trade and the cod fishery, two prosaic strands of his country's economic history) was published in the 1920s and 1930s. Eventually, this research became the core of his 'staples theory', an analysis of how reliance on raw material exports can shape a country's economy and its culture.

Dry stuff, I admit. But Innis's relevance has not faded. Today it just has a different name. The phrase used is 'resource curse' and it's a major source of political conflict, environmental destruction and social dysfunction. In this issue, we try to figure out what it means for those countries and communities caught in the 'staples trap'.

Elsewhere in the magazine photojournalist Isabella Moore travels to Russia, one of the world's biggest fossil fuel producers, where she talks to that country's gay citizens about the fear of living in an increasingly repressive state. …

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