Seminar: Do African elites really want to emulate a Chinese 'model' of development?


Video duration: 
40 min.

  • Tekeze Dam
  • At 185 meters, the Tekeze Dam in Ethiopia is ten
    meters higher than the Three Gorges Dam in China.
    Photo: International Rivers.

Recent years have seen a sharp increase in speculations that China’s development trajectory may provide a model for African states. This research seeks to directly examine the ideational influence of China’s development on those ultimately charged with evaluating and implementing these purported ‘models’: developing country elites. It finds that elites in two country cases - Ethiopia and Kenya - indeed look outside their borders for exemplars of development. China, however, is viewed as only one source of potential ‘lessons’, and its elites often embed its experiences within a wider East Asian development trajectory. Although there are important differences in the dynamics driving emulation in the two countries, both cases challenge many of the assumptions that have driven thinking on African development since the 1970s. More specifically, African elites engage in a process of demand-led lesson-drawing that lend them a greater level of agency than has often been assumed; in addition, the content of this lesson-drawing currently illustrates the enduring popularity of many of the assumptions of modernisation theory in Africa.

Elsje FourieElsje Fourie is a Lecturer in Globalisation and Development at the University of Maastricht. The seminar she will be presenting at the African Studies Centre is adapted from research undertaken during her doctorate, which she completed at the School of International Studies at the University of Trento (Italy) in 2013. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Pretoria (South Africa) and a postgraduate degree from the University of Bradford (UK). Her current research interests include the evolution of post-colonial development paradigms in Africa; processes of lesson-drawing and emulation between developing countries/regions; and theories of modernization and multiple modernities.

Date, time and location

19 February 2015
15.30 - 17.00
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room SB45 (basement)