Neoclassical Practice and the Collapse of Industry in Zimbabwe: The Cases of Textiles, Clothing, and Footwear*


  • *

    Many thanks to Abdi Samatar, Eric Sheppard, Peter Robinson, Tyler Biggs, Francis Owusu, Simon Winter, and three anonymous referees for their comments. Any shortcomings in the article are mine. An earlier version was presented at the meetings of the Association of American Geographers in Fort Worth, Texas, 1–5 April 1997. Financial support was given by the Department of Geography, MacArthur Program, and Graduate School of the University of Minnesota.


Abstract: The World Bank predicted that export-oriented, labor-intensive manufacturing industries, such as textiles, clothing, and footwear, would expand rapidly once Zimbabwe liberalized its economy under structural adjustment. In sharp contrast to these predictions, however, these subsectors have all but collapsed. A large part of the reason for this disjuncture between neoclassical theory and reality relates to a misunderstanding of the way in which markets, particularly those of trade and finance, interact with production in particular contexts. More appropriate alternative approaches to economic development in Africa must take account of how economic and political actions are embedded in a geographic and politico-economic context.