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The Spectre of Global China: Politics, Labor and Foreign Investment in Africa

The Spectre of Global China: Politics, Labor and Foreign Investment in Africa

February 1st, 3:30pm, Thomson Hall 317 

China has recently emerged as one of Africa’s top business partners, aggressively pursuing its raw materials and establishing a mighty presence in the continent’s booming construction market. Among major foreign investors in Africa, China has stirred the most fear, hope, and controversy. This book talk analyzes the peculiarity of outbound Chinese state capital by comparing it with global private capital in copper and construction in Zambia. Refuting the rhetorical narratives of “Chinese colonialism” and “south-south cooperation”, I draw on ethnographic data collected over a six-year period to chronicle the multi-faceted struggles that confront and differentiate these two varieties of capital, and discuss their uneven potentials for post-colonial African development.

Ching Kwan Lee is a professor of sociology at UCLA. Her research interests include labor, political sociology, development, China, global south and comparative ethnography. She is author of Gender and the South China Miracle: Two Worlds of Factory Women (1998), Against the Law: Labor Protests in China’s Rustbelt and Sunbelt (2007), and The Specter of Global China: Politics, Labor and Foreign Investment in Africa (2017).