FSSL ID Event: China’s Global Slipstream: Transforming Resource-based Development

Cabot Institute and FSSL International Development Group Event: ‘China’s Global Slipstream: Transforming Resource-based Development’

Dr Nicholas Jepson, University of Manchester

Tuesday 7th November, 12.00 – 13.30

Room G4/5, 10 Woodland Road

The SDG seminar series has relaunched as the Bristol Global Challenges and International Development Seminar Series. For this inaugural seminar, we were delighted to welcome Dr Nicholas Jepson from the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester.

In the early 2000s China began to require rapidly-increasing quantities of natural resource imports to sustain its breakneck economic growth. From 2003 to 2014 global markets in minerals and metals experienced a boom of unprecedented extent and duration. And for the first time in 30 years, resource-rich Southern states from Angola to Bolivia began to advance a range of new development strategies, breaking with (neoliberal) economic orthodoxies to which they previously appeared bound. Employing a critical reading of world-systems analysis and incorporating findings from fieldwork in Ecuador, Zambia and Jamaica, this seminar reveals the causal connections between these phenomena. It shows that over the boom years Chinese demand not only transformed the global commodity trade, but in so doing opened the way for the emergence of several new political-economic trajectories among states in the global South. The seminar presents a typology of these trajectories, each one linked to a different form of state-society complex. A key claim is that some of these emergent pathways represent fundamental breaks with previous donor and creditor-imposed policy constraints – and would have been impossible but for the reshaping of extractive sectors in the wake of spiralling Chinese demand. Ultimately, the seminar highlights the potential for China’s continuing externalisation to undermine long-held assumptions around the broader logics of development.

The seminar drew on Dr Jepson’s book, China’s Global Slipstream, which will be published by Columbia University Press in 2018.

a6ca53af-d157-4db8-a8e2-65767cf94534Nicholas Jepson is a Lecturer in International Development in the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester. The first graduate of Bristol’s PhD programme in Global Political Economy, his thesis won the University’s Prize for the best social science thesis of 2015-16. His research centres on the rise of China and its implications for development prospects across the Global South. More broadly, his interests lie in historical understandings of the global political economy and how these might provide insights into contemporary processes of development. In this latter context he has recently published (with Jeffrey Henderson), ‘Critical transformations and global development: materials for a new analytical framework’ (Area Development and Policy, 2017).


Research scoping trip to Fiji

Dave Bainton (SoE)
Terra Sprague (SPAIS)

The purpose of the visit was to explore research collaborations, with the view to the development of research proposals for funded research. The visit was a 10 day visit, during which time, meetings were held with:

  • University of the South Pacific (USP). Oceania centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies
  • USP – Faculty of Arts, Law and education
  • Save the Children Fiji,
  • Permaculture Farm and Training Centre, Sigatoka
  • Ra region – Michael Nacola (son of Ratu Jo Nacola, chief), Anne Nacola, (wife Ratu Jo Nacola)
  • Talei Goater: Manager of Husk Creative Industry platform
  • Fiji Arts Council

The scoping visit entailed initial discussions with institutions to find common interests, and further follow up visits to plan collaborations in greater detail.  Further work will focus on two core partners – USP, and permaculture farm and Training Centre, Sigatoka.

Three research collaboration were concretely developed and are progressing:

  1. Reclaiming Tapa for sustainable livelihoods (with USP, Permaculture farm, Fiji Arts council, Ra Village).

A mutigeneration tapa ( traditional printed bark cloth) workshop will be held at two sites – Permaculture farm, and Ra village). These workshops will reclaim lost traditional practices and through this strengthen sustainable livelihoods in the two areas. The workshops will be trialled as a form of praxis that engages communities with issues of traditional knowledge, and sustainable development. The workshops will be filmed – capturing both the process and the discussions that evolved. A successful first pair of workshop will be developed into a larger funded project. We are currently exploring crowd funding for these pilot workshops.

  1. Collaborative ARTS (with Oceania centre, USP (leading) and a range of independent civil society arts groups in Fiji.

Lead by the Oceania centre, a collaborative arts group was established. This included academics involved in pacific studies as well as musicians, writers and visual/performance artists. The idea is to develop a critical arts space to work on and respond to contemporary issues in Fiji. Different arts practitioners will engage in conversations through their different arts practices to generate relevant critical thought on issues of sustainable development. At present this does not need funding.

  1. Language supportive education in the South Pacific (with USP – Faculty Arts, Law and Education).

This aims to take some of the lessons from an ongoing research project in Tanzania (Bainton) and use this to develop new pedagogic approaches relevant to the pacific region. Initial pilot work to be funded from USP research budgets, and is planned to be a three-country comparison of language issues within subject learning at secondary level. This baseline research will be used to identify areas for developing interventions.