Drawing on data collected through comparative ethnographic fieldwork on Chinese investments in Zambia in the past five years, this talk seeks to answer the questions: What is the peculiarity of Chinese capital? What are the impacts of Chinese investments on African development? Rejecting both the Western rhetoric of “Chinese colonialism” and the Chinese self-justification of “south-south collaboration”, Lee examines the mechanisms, interests and limits of Chinese power through a double comparison: between Chinese and non-Chinese companies, and between copper and construction.
Ching Kwan Lee is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and currently a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Science at Stanford. Her research interests include labor, development, political sociology, global ethnography and China. She is author of Against the Law: Labor Protests in China’s Rustbelt and Sunbelt and Gender and the South China Miracle. She is working on two book projects, one on Chinese investment and labor practices in Zambia, and the other on forty years of state and society relations in China.