Worlding Developmentalism through Economic Zones: Views from the Eastern Industrial Zone of Ethiopia

Authors: Ding Fei*, University of Minnesota
Topics: China, Africa, Development
Keywords: China, Ethiopia, Economic Zones, Worlding
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Regent, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper substantiates my recent review article on the “export” of Chinese zoning practices under the Belt and Road Initiative (B&R) and China–Africa Cooperation (CAC) by an empirical study of the most developed Chinese economic zone (EZs) in Ethiopia – the Eastern Industrial Zone (EIZ). The concept of “worlding developmentalism” is proposed to capture the politics of imagination and anticipation by individuals and institutions in the uneven process of Chinese globalization. By investigating the political, economic, and ideological linkages between the two regional initiatives of B&R and CAC, the paper contends that while most of the EZs under B&R are still under planning, Chinese EZs in Africa contributes a closer look at the stated and peopled worlding practice in the contemporary era. Drawing upon the author’s field research with Chinese manufactures and technicians in EIZ, the paper reveals the collective (yet by no means coherent) efforts of Chinese government institutions at multiple ministerial and geographic levels, Chinese enterprises of varying sizes and industrial focuses, and Chinese people with situated incentives and constraints in overseas endeavors. In addition, analyses of local Ethiopian workers’ experiences in EIZ further highlights the agencies of host countries, regions and populations that constantly shape and are shaped by the situated practices of Chinese businesses and migrants. Field-based investigations aim to uncover the daily encounters and negotiations in the zone, and the dynamics of transformation, differentiation, empowerment and marginalization on the ground.

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