The lives of others: An investigation into the lives and attitudes of Chinese migrant workers in Africa against the historical background of Sino-African cooperation.

As China’s expansion into Africa has been increasing enormously over recent years, Sino-African relations have become a prominent topic in the general media and for observers of both Africa’s and China’s international relations. It is surprising that relatively little has been written about Chinese migrants in Africa. While China claims their relationship with Africa to be mutually profitable, a high proportion of the available available literature presents Chinese presence on the continent in increasingly negative ways, this literature is mostly of Western authorship. It is timely to attempt to gain greater understanding of the experiences of Chinese migrants workers who come – in increasing numbers – with Chinese aid, trade, business and development projects to the African continent. This small scale study uses existing literature to explore Sino-African cooperation and migration to Africa, and obtained empirical evidence from conducting in-depth interviews with Chinese migrants in various African countries in order to gain understanding of their lives and attitudes. This paper demonstrates that through largely positive encounters and despite language barriers and cultural differences, Chinese migrants are playing a prominent role in Sino-African cooperation.

You are most welcome to read my research. Please note that in order to guarantee the anonymity of the respondents that were interviewed for this research,  I have made use of pseudonyms to replace their real names.

Click here to download “The Lives of Others”, by Sanne Schouwenburg (PDF file)

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e13-871An interesting piece of propaganda which quotes: “Fewer births, better births, to develop China vigorously”. This propaganda was distributed in the 1980s, when the one-child policy was enforced. In the country side more children were needed to help on the farm, this was partly the reason of the fact that this policy was more successful in the cities than in the countryside. Interestingly it were usually girls that were shown on the posters, to indicate that they are worth as much as boys. Sex-selective abortions however were still not uncommon. The consequences of this policy are huge, and will become a challenge in the near future as the dependency ratio is declining. Who will take care of the Chinese old-aged?

Published 2015 (1st ed. 1990)

Finally I got the 3rd revised edition in my hands! The Search for modern China is a readable, grand sweeping history of China in the modern era (i.e., post 1500 CE), covering economics, politics, military events, society and arts, backed by many useful maps, and selections of drawings, prints, and photographs. Some readers might be frustrated by the dozens of ‘pinyin’ names to keep track of. however, the patterns and trends that emerged from this book, as well as the sense of China’s journey as a nation is fascinating. Count me a fan of Spence’s level of detail. Reading this is helpful for understanding the backdrop for what you will find in China today – and what you won’t. It is amusing that Deng Xiaopeng, the founder of modern Chinese state capitalism, modestly hoped for a 2% growth rate until the year 2050, with the aim of making China a moderately developed nation.

This edition continues after the events of Tiananmen Square. A lot has happened since then. I cannot wait to read this last chapter!

Published February 200751Ia0IeFf2L

Dani Rodrik is an expert in international economics, globalisation, economic growth, development and political economy. Among other degrees, he has received a PhD. in Economics and he has broad experience as a professor of International Political Economy.

This book consists of a collection of some of Rodrik’s previous published essays written between 2000 and 2006 on various facets of development and globalisation. His aim – mentioned in the introduction – is to explore whether economic growth is the most powerful instrument for reducing poverty. This is backed by a considerable amount of economic analyses, history and policy studies of different nations. His analysis are to Read More →

Published May 2009

Galeano seeks to explain how the mechanisms of plunder operated from the beginning of the colonial era, through independence and into the twentieth century. He discusses in detail the way in which industrialisation of Europe and subsequently the USA was achieved at the expense of the impoverishment of Latin America, in terms of natural & human resources.

The Open Veins of Latin America is divided into 2 main sections. The first recounts the story of how Europeans first “discovered” Latin America and started to plunder the continent’s natural resources, from minerals they mined through to agricultural goods created using the labour of the indigenous population. These goods were exported from Latin American soil directly to Read More →

Published January 2007

Neoliberalism – the doctrine that market exchange is an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action – has become dominant in both thought and practice throughout much of the world since 1970 or so.

Its spread has depended upon a reconstitution of state powers such that privatisation, finance, and market processes are emphasised. State interventions in the economy are minimised, while the obligations of the state to provide for the welfare of its citizens are diminished. David Harvey, tells the political-economic story of where neoliberalisation came from and how Read More →

Published September 2007

Mike Davis is an American writer, political activist, urban theorist, and historian. He is a professor at the University of California and defines himself as a socialist and Marxist- environmentalist. His publications convey ideas on urban theory and developmental studies. Planet of Slums was originally a journal in 2004 which was converted into a book and published in 2006. In his book, Davis provides a refreshing angle on slums in favour of slum dwellers, and offers much in terms of empirical evidence and original arguments, which intrigues us to investigate how slums have evolved since the publication of the book. Read More →

Published October 2011k9564

In “Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World”, Escobar poses the question of how the industrialised Western countries came to be the unquestioned role models of economic development for less-developed nations. Escobar wants to ‘contribute to the development framework for the cultural critique of economics as a foundational structure of modernity, including the formulation of a culture-based political economy’. The book actively criticises development economics and the development agencies for having taken a “naïve” and “oversimplified” approach, as well as underestimating the requirements for development in these countries.  Read More →

large.jpg.htmlDr Alison J Ayers, is an associate professor in political science at SOAS, London. Her main interests include IPE, development and imperialism to name a few examples, with a specific focus on Africa. Ayers wrote this chapter – which is part of the book “Decolonizing International Relations” – to contribute to the recovery of African history by offering a non-imperialistic view of political systems and democracy in Ghana and Uganda. The aim is not necessarily to show evidence of advanced African political systems. Rather it defends, in an interesting and refreshing way, the idea that Africa has had their own types of political communities prior to colonisation. Read More →

41WEJP3eyXLThis book was written by Krasner in 1999. Stephen Krasner is a neorealist who believes in conflict prevention. One of Krasner’s most famous accomplishments in the realm of political science was defining “international regimes” as, “implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules and decision-making procedures around which actors’ expectations converge in a given area of international relations,” in a special issue of the journal International Organisation in 1982. He has also written extensively about statehood and sovereignty.

Krasner defines 4 ways in which people refer to sovereignty in international relations:
1. Domestic sovereignty (actual control over a state by an authority within this state),
2. Interdependence Sovereignty (actual control of movement across state’s borders),
3. International Legal Sovereignty (formally recognising independent territories),
4. Westphalian Sovereignty (states may determine their own authority structures).

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1648The Myth of 1648: Class, Geopolitics and the Making of Modern International Relations” was written by Dr Benno Teschke in 2003. Teschke is a German-British IR theorist who focuses on the creation and emergence of the contemporary state system. He earned his PhD at the London School of Economics and Political Science and is currently a Reader in IR at the University of Sussex.

His book raises valid questions about a traditionally widely accepted view held by scholars of international relations, and creates long overdue debate around a key event in this field of study, which can be seen in the extensive response his book received following its publication. However, elements of his argument are simplistic and would benefit from more evidence.

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Today I read “Sovereignty, International Relations, and the Westphalian Myth.” in “International Organisation” [2001, 55 – 2, p251-287]. It is written by Andreas Osiander, a prominent IR scholar, who studied international relations, history, and economics at Tübingen University, the Institut d ́Etudes Politiques of Paris and at Oxford University. He is currently a lecturer in international relations at Leipzig University, where his work is mainly focused on the study of the concept of the State. Although this text is limited, Osiander manages to point out that the concept of sovereignty is subject to change over time and that what was meant by sovereignty during the creation of the Westphalian treaties is not the same today, nor is it relevant in today’s global landscape.

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41dFFWW5m-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Charles Tilly – an Americans sociologist, political scientist, and historian – wrote a chapter called “War Making and State Making as Organised Crime” in “Bringing the State Back in” [Evans, P., Rueschemeyer, D., and Skocpol, T. (eds.)(1985)(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)]

In his chapter Tilly sets the actions of organised violence and the movements of War-making and State-making side by side, which maintains that government leaders are comparable to “self-seeking entrepreneurs” [p169]. He claims that, during the formation of European states, government leaders gained power through organising protection rackets and through the use of force within given territories.

A protection racket is a situation in which a criminal group demands money from a storeowner, company, etc. in exchange for agreeing not to harm them [Cambridge dictionary].

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After having visited a few other places in China, I arrived at the campus of the University of Nottingham in Ningbo. Their campus is beautiful, and the view from the balcony is absolutely stunning. During the introduction week I immediately noticed that we were not in Europe. The local China Telecom store has a monopoly on campus and in order to be able to use the internet in your room you must buy one of their phones and send them a message with it every day in order to receive a new password. Even more shocking, our library and email correspondence is closely monitored by a member of the Party. The registration does not run very smooth, but the fact that this is the first international campus on Chinese territory, makes the complications more acceptable.

After trying out all of the offered modules I decide to follow the following modules this semester:

Core Concepts of International Relations,
International Political Economy,
Welfare States.

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