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Academic Conference « China-Africa in Global Comparative Perspective »

Complete program

Few countries have succeeded in achieving an economic performance as transformative and impressive as China in the last few decades. Within less than a generation, China has become the world’s second largest economy, its greatest exporting nation, and an undisputed engine of global growth despite major structural imbalances and socio-economic setbacks at home. The global impact of China’s domestic reforms, however, are still unclear.

Despite its growing role in shaping the global economic and political order, few topics about China’s remarkable ascension on the global stage have captured the interest and imagination of both popular and academic audiences more vigorously in recent years than China’s renewed engagement with the African continent. Justifiably or not, Africa has become a major platform from which to analyse and understand China’s growing influence in the developing world and capture local responses to it. Although we have witnessed an evolution in the China-Africa literature in recent years which has helped broaden existing state-driven, geopolitical conversations to include more nuanced, ethnographic studies of grass-root realities, few examinations set out to analyse China-Africa relations in comparative perspective.

Why have China-Africa relations, thus far, captured a disproportionate amount of academic and media attention compared to extensive Chinese engagements in other regions of the world? What can we gain from situating China-Africa relations in a broader comparative historical and geographic perspective? What real-life issues and controversies are relevant beyond fixed geographic boundaries?

What role does the West play in establishing the parameters of the China-Africa conversation? How have China-Africa engagements been framed and studied so far and how can existing approaches be improved? What new questions and analytical frameworks can help us improve the way we locate and understand unfolding dynamics? What comparative lessons can be learnt by studying similar processes in different regions of the world? 

This conference sets out to explore these questions with a particular focus on China-Africa engagements in global comparative perspective, taking grass-root dynamics and people to people relations as our starting point.


The Chinese in Africa/Africans in China Research Network (CA/AC) is the world’s largest independent, interdisciplinary, research network dedicated to China-Africa affairs. 

Established in 2007, the network currently hosts more than 700 members around the world and includes experts in academia, diplomacy, media, and international development.

The Network’s primary goals are to promote academic research and intellectual exchange about China-Africa affairs, with emphasis on people to people ties and issues and favouring field based research and empirical work.

Our objective is to help move the global conversation about China-Africa forward in a critical and constructive way while developing a transnational community of scholars and practitioners who value dialogue, equity and inclusiveness.


The 5th Conference of the Chinese in Africa/Africans in China Research Network is scheduled to take place between the 27-29 June 2018 at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Brussels, Belgium with the support of the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie des Mondes Contemporains (LAMC) and the Research Centre on East Asia (EASt). Various other Belgian, South African, Chinese and American institutions are also co-sponsors of the events. The conference will be held in both English and French.

The aim of 2018 CA/AC conference is two-fold. First, it will showcase the latest research on China-Africa with an emphasis on comparative analysis, new issues and reflexive methodologies with a special exhibition to showcase multimedia notes from the field. The second aim is to promote and participate in the ongoing formation of a constructive China-Africa-Europe dialogue and further develop CA/AC’s network in Europe.

Wednesday 27th & Thursday 28th June 2018
Atrium – Solvay Business School
Campus du Solbosch – Building R42
Avenue F. Roosevelt 42
1050 Bruxelles

Friday 29th June 2018
Salle Dupréel
Campus du Solbosch – Building S
Avenue Jeanne 44
1050 Bruxelles

Registration is mandatory:
ULB Members, Students and Staff, please register here
If you are not a ULB member, please contact caacbrussels@gmail.com

Contact : caacbrussels@gmail.com