Drawing on data collected through comparative ethnographic fieldwork on Chinese investments in Zambia in the past five years, this talk addresses 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 cooperation”, I examine the mechanisms, imperatives and limits of Chinese power through a double comparison: between Chinese and non-Chinese companies, and between copper and construction.

About the Speaker

Ching Kwan Lee is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. A native of Hong Kong, she obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley and has previously taught at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Currently, she is a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

Her research focuses on labor, gender, political sociology, comparative and global ethnography, Global China. She has published in the American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Theory and Society, Daedalus, Work & Occupations, Gender & Society, the China Quarterly and Modern China, among other venues. She is author of two award winning books: Against the Law: Labor Protests in China’s Rustbelt and Sunbelt (University of California Press 2007), and Gender and the South China Miracle: Two Worlds of Factory Women (University of California Press 1998). Her edited volumes include Working in China: Ethnographies of Labor and Workplace Transformation (Routledge 2007), Re-envisioning the Chinese Revolution: the Politics and Poetics of Collective Memories in Contemporary China ( with Guobin Yang, Stanford University Press, 2007), Reclaiming Chinese Society : the New Activism (with Youtien Hsing, Routlege 2009), and From the Iron Rice Bowl to Informalization: Market, State, and Workers in a Changing China (with Sarosh Kuruvilla and Mary Gallagher, Cornell University Press, 2011).

She is working on two monographs, respectively on four decades of state and society relation in China (under contract with Polity Press, UK) and on the politics of Chinese investment in Zambia.

UC Irvine School of Law, LAW 3500 (Map)


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