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Negotiating China: reinserting African agency into China-Africa relations

Mohan, Giles and Lampert, Ben (2013). Negotiating China: reinserting African agency into China-Africa relations. African Affairs, 112(446) pp. 92–110.

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Most analyses of China’s renewed engagement with Africa treat China as the driving force, and little recognition is given to the role of African agency, especially beyond the level of state elites. This article investigates the extent of African agency in engagements with China and argues that at various levels African actors have negotiated, shaped and even driven Chinese engagements in important ways. Suggesting a theoretical framework that captures agency both within and beyond the state, the article provides an empirical analysis of African agency first by showing how elements of the Angolan state created a hybrid set of institutions to broker Chinese investment projects, and second by discussing how African social actors have influenced and derived benefits from the activities of Chinese migrants in Ghana and Nigeria. While both cases demonstrate African agency, the ability of African actors to exercise such agency is highly uneven, placing African politics at the heart of any understanding of China-Africa relations.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2012 The Authors, published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal African Society
ISSN: 1468-2621
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Politics of Chinese engagement with African 'development': case studies of Angola and ChinaRES-062-23-0487ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)
Social and political impacts of South-South migration: a comparative analysis of Chinese migrant integration in West AfricaRES 062-23-1893ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)
Keywords: China-Africa relations; African agency; Chinese foreign investment; Chinese migrants; Angola; Ghana; Nigeria
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Politics, Philosophy, Economics, Development, Geography > Development
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Politics, Philosophy, Economics, Development, Geography
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Research Group: Innovation, Knowledge & Development research centre (IKD)
OpenSpace Research Centre (OSRC)
Item ID: 34522
Depositing User: Ben Lampert
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2012 09:02
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2018 19:19
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