Paper $30.00 ISBN: 9780226340838 Published January 2018
Cloth $90.00 ISBN: 9780226340661 Published January 2018
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The Specter of Global China

Politics, Labor, and Foreign Investment in Africa

Ching Kwan Lee

The Specter of Global China

Ching Kwan Lee

256 pages | 20 color plates, 1 halftone, 2 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2017
Paper $30.00 ISBN: 9780226340838 Published January 2018
Cloth $90.00 ISBN: 9780226340661 Published January 2018
E-book $10.00 to $30.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226340975 Published January 2018
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. For many, the specter of a Chinese neocolonial scramble is looming, while for others China is Africa’s best chance at economic renewal. Yet, global debates about China in Africa have been based more on rhetoric than on empirical evidence. Ching Kwan Lee’s The Specter of Global China is the first comparative ethnographic study that addresses the critical question: Is Chinese capital a different kind of capital?
 
Offering the clearest look yet at China’s state-driven investment in Africa, this book is rooted in six years of extensive fieldwork in copper mines and construction sites in Zambia, Africa’s copper giant. Lee shadowed Chinese, Indian, and South African managers in underground mines, interviewed Zambian miners and construction workers, and worked with Zambian officials. Distinguishing carefully between Chinese state capital and global private capital in terms of their business objectives, labor practices, managerial ethos, and political engagement with the Zambian state and society, she concludes that Chinese state investment presents unique potential and perils for African development. The Specter of Global China will be a must-read for anyone interested in the future of China, Africa, and capitalism worldwide.
Contents

List of Abbreviations
Preface

1 Unnatural Capital: Chinese State Investment and Its Travails in Africa
2 Varieties of Accumulation: Profit Maximization and Beyond
3 Labor Bargains: Regimes of Exploitation and Exclusion
4 Managerial Ethos: Collective Asceticism versus Individual Careerism
5 Contesting Capital: Aspiration and Capacity from Below
6 Eventful Global China

Appendix: An Ethnographer’s Odyssey: The Mundane and the Sublime of Researching China in Zambia
Notes
Index

Review Quotes
Current History
"Lee deserves praise for her enviable ethnographic research: the myriad interviews and observations that inform her findings make for a richly textured study. Her book is a major contribution to the China-in-Africa literature."
Elizabeth J. Perry, Harvard University
“Rejecting simplistic depictions of Chinese investment in Africa as inevitably ‘imperialistic’ and ‘exploitative,’ The Specter of Global China paints a richly nuanced portrait based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Zambian copper mines and construction sites. Lee makes a compelling case for the benefits of placing the study of China’s political economy in global perspective.”
Gordon Mathews, author of The World in Guangzhou
“The book is brilliant in its portrayals, and impossible to put down: both the ethnographic section of the book and the appendix are superlative in their vividness.”
Michael Burawoy, University of California at Berkeley
“Lee has produced another pioneering treatise on China. With Zambia as her field site, she contrasts Chinese state investment with competing footloose private capital from other countries, thereby refuting mythologies of Chinese colonialism or world hegemony. Her novel political economy based on ‘varieties of capital’ displaces more conventional theories of ‘varieties of capitalism’ to reveal a startling contingency to global capitalism. Sure to be an unforgettable classic, The Specter of Global China represents the very best of historical and comparative ethnography.”
Edward Webster, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
The Specter of Global China engages with substantial theoretical questions at the center of the nature of capitalism as a system. It is not a book exclusively for students of China in Africa; its theoretical and empirical engagement with enduring questions in the social sciences make it an important contribution to all those interested in the theory and practice of development.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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