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African Agency and the Future of Africa-China Engagements

Event Type
Illinois Global Institute; Center for African Studies
Room 108 Coble Hall, 801 S. Wright St.
wifi event
Nov 1, 2023   12:00 - 1:30 pm  
Dr. Kwame Adovor Tsikudo (Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia)
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Center for African Studies
Originating Calendar
African studies - Outreach Calendar

Speaker: Dr. Kwame Adovor Tsikudo, Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia

Date: November 1, 2023

Time: 12:00pm (noon)

Location: Room 306 Coble Hall and via Zoom

Dr. Kwame Adovor Tsikudo is an assistant professor of geography and global studies at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Kwame’s research examines the political economy of China-Africa engagements and the role of the African state. The main strands of this research entail linkage creation, state capacity and agency, environmental governance, energy justice, and sustainability. Kwame’s recent work used mixed exploratory methods to investigate how the Ghanaian state shaped the developmental outcomes of the Chinese-financed Bui Hydroelectric Dam. His ongoing project explores the power dynamics of development infrastructures in China-Africa relations. Kwame is a research fellow at Afro-Sino for international relations and serves on the African Geographical Review editorial board.

Africa and China have, over the past two decades, forged robust relationships involving cooperating on issues such as COVID-19, mutual developments, and multilateral bloc voting. While African countries welcome the burgeoning engagement for fulfilling vital fiscal and infrastructural deficits, the extent to which African agency shapes the interactions remains an issue. Drawing on research from Ghana’s Bui hydropower dam, this presentation contextualizes African agency by examining how Chinese African (Ghanaian) employees resisted and challenged poor working conditions and unfavorable labor practices and regimes. This analysis foregrounds micro-scale agency as critical in shaping the future of Africa-China engagements by offering alternative narratives. The discussion challenges the state-centric approach to agency and argues that socio-political contexts, including history, law enforcement, and institutional effectiveness, are prerequisites for successfully exercising agency in Africa-China relationships. The study reinforces the centrality of autonomous, sagacious, and resourceful institutions in facilitating mutual benefits of Africa-China relations. 

This event is both in-person and on zoom


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