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Monday, September 27

The Fragmented Spectacle of Chinese Soft Power in Africa
Asia Now Fall Lecture Series
4:30 pm
Dr. Maria Repnikova, Georgia State University; Introduced by Dr. Iza Ding, Political Science, University of Pittsburgh
211 David Lawrence Hall
Sponsored by:
Asian Studies Center

This talk presents the multifaceted story of China’s soft power campaigns in Africa, with a special focus on Ethiopia—one of China’s closest economic and political partners on the continent. Countering the claims of China’s authoritarian export, the analysis of China’s engagement with Ethiopian elites, youth and media audiences, showcases what I describe as a “fragmented spectacle” — a grand, but disjointed display of China’s prowess. In particular, China’s soft power appeal is rooted in generosity of scale or the large-scale access to its initiatives. And yet, when it comes to building relationships, it produces fragmented or contested Sino-African solidarities. I specifically highlight how performative, material and discursive solidarity works and the tensions that override these different Sino-African encounters. This talk, which draws on a larger book project, demonstrates that the idea of a moral competition is largely a product of the US insecurity about losing out to China, in what many US officials see as the last frontier, rather than an accurate depiction of Chinese activities in Africa.

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