AFRASO Lecture by Dr. Ross Anthony (CCS, Stellenbosch University): 'China in Africa' in the Anthropocene

02. June 2016
Campus Westend, Seminarhaus, Raum, 0.107, 4 p. m. (c.t.)


Within the context of China’s growing integration into the global economy, mainstream Euro-American voices emanating in the realm of politics, media, think-tanks and academia have portrayed the opposite: namely to isolate China from this integration. This excising of China from the global political economy, often expressed in negative terms, is manifest particularly overtly in terms Chinese engagement in Africa. This paper examines the Euro-American development of the China-Africa discourse by building on existing scholarship which has sought to situate China’s role in Africa as part a vaster web of global capital of which both China and the Euro-American sphere are deeply immersed. Against the backdrop of the Anthropocene - human-based alteration of both climate and eco-systems and accelerated by a hyper competitive global economic model focused on consumption and GDP growth - it is argued that ‘Africa’ increasingly functions as a hinge upon which Euro-American anxieties focus. This arises not only from a residual neo-colonial paternalism, but also because Africa remains one of the least integrated ‘last frontiers’ of capital in the ‘New Scramble for Africa’. Thus, the China-Africa discourse signals a broad-scale failure to engage in one of the largest challenges of the 21st century: how to grapple with the spread of a consensual post-Cold War market capitalism - of which the west, China and increasingly Africa are involved - in an era in which such an ideology is hastening ecological crises. 

Dr Ross Anthony is the Director of the Centre for Chinese Studies. Ross’s research focuses on Chinese politics both domestically and in its relationship with Africa.

Within the African domain, Ross examines the relationship between Chinese economic investments in Africa and geo-political security concerns. The work examines transnational infrastructure and resource linkages in eastern and southern Africa and, by extension, the adjacent maritime territories of the Indian Ocean and Antarctic region. He is also interested in the role the economy plays in determining political relations between China and Africa, recently fleshed out in a project focusing on the diplomacy of economic pragmatism in the triangular relationship between South Africa China and Taiwan. Within China, Ross continues to hold an interest in the area of his Ph.D. research, the Muslim region of Xinjiang, western China, in fields of ethnicity, nationalism urbanisation and China’s market shift. Ross is an advocate of building African-centred China expertise through teaching. He teaches on China-Africa related issues as well as on issues of Chinese politics, economy, culture and history.

He holds a doctorate from the University of Cambridge funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and was previously a Mellon Foundation Research Fellow at the Centre for Chinese Studies.