Tuesday, January 19, 2016

China-Africa Post-Doctoral Fellowship Opportunity

The China-Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS-CARI), directed by Professor Deborah Brautigam, will offer one post-doctoral research fellow position for a twelve-month period between July 2016 and June 2017.

Fellows will spend approximately half of their time on their own research projects, and half providing support to other CARI research projects. This support could include leading CARI research assistants in cleaning and analyzing data on Chinese finance and investment in Africa, organizing and implementing desk and field studies, drafting research papers and policy briefs, presenting at conferences, and assisting with outreach activities and communications as necessary.

An understanding of China’s overseas economic engagement (trade, investment, aid, loans, other forms of cooperation) is essential for this position.  Our preference is for candidates who have skills in econometrics but who have also conducted field research, preferably in Africa although we are open to comparative perspectives. Ability to read and do research in Chinese is essential. 

We seek a creative individual with the skills of a detective or an investigative journalist, an organized and cheerful perfectionist, a quick learner, and a diligent and tenacious worker who enjoys tracking down information and working in teams.

Candidates must have completed all Ph.D. training and have defended their dissertations or be scheduled to defend by the summer of 2016. They may not be more than five years beyond receipt of the Ph.D. at the start of the fellowship.

To apply, please provide the following to sais-cari@jhu.edu

  • Cover letter explaining your scholarly interest in China’s African engagement, and prospective or actual doctoral defense date;
  • Current C.V. including publications;
  • 2000-word description of the research project you would work on at SAIS, including its specific objectives, importance, and research design;
  • One writing sample;
  • Contact information for three references. Referees will be contacted directly by email with instructions for submitting a confidential recommendation on your behalf. Please ensure that you have requested permission in advance.

The deadline for this application is February 26, 2016We will contact your referees after that date. Rank and salary will be contingent on qualifications. Candidates will be notified by March 30, 2016 of the results of their application, while a formal offer will be made in April 2016. 

Please contact sais-cari@jhu.edu with any questions.

Monday, January 4, 2016

China in Africa: Five Myths

My (gated) op-ed published in Foreign Policy on December 4, 2015: 
Xi Jinping just announced billions of dollars worth of aid and financing for Africa. Here’s why the Chinese president is sure to be misunderstood.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Santa Claus arrived early in South Africa — on a Chinese jet. This week, Chinese President Xi Jinping signed multiple business deals and brought offers of billions in new grants, loans, export credits, and investment funds as African leaders met for the sixth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, a triennial extravaganza that showcases development and security issues of concern to Chinese and African leaders.
Not surprisingly, Xi’s second presidential visit to Africa, which also included a stop in Zimbabwe, has refocused attention on China’s expanded role on the continent. The story has dominated the airwaves and has been splashed across broadsheets around the world. But as is so often the case with China-in-Africa coverage, much of it should come with a warning label: Consume with a grain of salt. Here are five of the most dangerous — and persistent — myths about Chinese engagement in Africa that are reliably recycled by the press. first — and most damaging — myth is that China is in Africa only to extract natural resources. There is no question that the continent’s vast natural resource endowments are a big draw for Chinese firms — just as they are for Western oil and minerals giants like Shell, ExxonMobil, and Glencore. Yet even in oil-rich countries like Nigeria, this is far from the whole story. In 2014 alone, Chinese companies signed over $70 billion in construction contracts in Africa that will yield vital infrastructure, provide jobs, and boost the skill set of the local workforce.
Technology companies have also done much to accelerate local development. More than a decade ago, the Chinese telecom firm Huawei established its West African training school in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. Ever since, it has been honing the skills of local engineers who are rolling out the cell phone networks that underpin Africa’s telecommunications revolution. The story is the same in other sectors: Our China Africa Research Initiative team at Johns Hopkins University, which has sought to map Chinese engagement and analyze its impact, found Chinese factories in Nigeria employing Nigerians and producing building materials, light bulbs, ceramics, and steel from salvaged ships. As one Nigerian official told me in a 2009 interview, “The Chinese are trying to get involved in every sector of our economy.”