Dr. Oliveira presents his research at the UC Berkeley Latin American Leadership Society Bi-annual Forum

Dr. Oliveira will present his research at the UC Berkeley Latin American Leadership Society Bi-annual Forum.

UC Berkeley, December 5, 2019

Time and location TBA.

Contact: Karina Cortes Garcia, karcortesg@berkeley.edu

Dr. Oliveira interviewed by Sputnik News (Beijing)

Brazilian expert: The “Belt and Road Initiative” is good for Brazil but the country should defend its own interests

Dr. Oliveira interviewed by Sputnik News (Beijing), the Russian Satellite News Agency, Beijing office.

Evgenii Aferin, Sputnik News Agency Beijing, November 20, 2019

Excerpts from original English statements provided by Gustavo Oliveira

Gustavo Oliveira, an assistant professor in the Department of Global and International Studies at the University of California, Irvine, said: “Some Brazilian sectors welcome the BRI, especially agribusiness, mining, and logistics (especially ports), since they already have strong market access to China and seek improved infrastructure to facilitate exports.”

Oliveira pointed out that “the Brazilian government wants to attract Chinese capital and partners while retaining control over the projects and priorities in the initiative.”

Oliveira also said that “other industries are skeptical about the ‘Belt and Road’ because Brazilian industrial enterprises and production infrastructure companies regard Chinese companies as their main competitors. The current Brazilian government is trying to coordinate these conflicting interests, arguing they ‘welcome the synergies’ between China’s BRI and Brazil’s own national projects for infrastructure construction.”

For the full length interview (in Chinese), see:


Dr. Oliveira presents new research at the UCI Long US-China Institute

Assembling China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Latin America

Dr. Gustavo de L. T. Oliveira

Assistant Professor, Department of Global and International Studies, UCI

October 21, 2019

3:00p.m. – 4:30p.m.

Humanities Gateway, Room 1010

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) evolved from promotion of Eurasian connectivity into a catchall for Chinese foreign policy and infrastructure investments worldwide. Although usually portrayed as a top-down geopolitical project of the Chinese central government, I argue the BRI is actually shaped by converging and diverging interests of a wide variety of actors within and outside China. In order to conceptualize the relational, contingent, and unstable emergence of the BRI in Latin America, I draw upon methods of global ethnography and theories of assemblage. I springboard from my research on Chinese investments in Brazilian agribusiness and related infrastructure and examine how the BRI incorporated Latin America through policy and discourse analysis. Then I demonstrate the multi-scalar and multi-sited production of Chinese-funded port and railroad infrastructures in Brazil. Ultimately, I argue these theories and methods of global studies enable us to ask more useful and critical questions about the BRI and China’s relations with Latin America.

Faculty work-in-progress lecture for the UCI Long US-China Institute

Contact: Dr. Emily Baum, emily.baum@uci.edu

Dr. Oliveira interviewed on the Belt and Road Podcast

Soy and Sinophobia: China’s Place in Brazilian Agribusiness

Dr. Gustavo Oliveira talks about Chinese agribusiness investments in Brazil, the rising importance of the soy trade between the two countries, and the ways domestic and international business interests have fanned the flames of Sinophobia for strategic gains. Dr. Oliveira is a Brazilian scholar and activist and an Assistant Professor of Global & International Studies at University of California, Irvine.

The Belt and Road Podcast covers the latest news, research and analysis of China’s growing presence in the developing world. It is produced by Erik Myxter-Iino (Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions) and Juliet Lu (University of California, Berkeley).

For the full 71 minute interview, see:


Belt and Road Podcast, Episode 19

October 21, 2019

Dr. Oliveira awarded at the 1st Financial Geography Global Conference

Dr. Oliveira was awarded an early career grant from the Global Network on Financial Geography (FinGeo) and the journal Environment and Planning A

The award was presented at the 1st FinGeo Global Conference on Financial Geography, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China, September 14 – 18, 2019. It was awarded for Dr. Oliveira’s presentation of his new research on “Chinese finance in Brazil: Collective information-seeking investments as drivers of financial internationalization”, co-authored with Dr. Canfei He, professor of economic geography and dean of the College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University.

The Global Network on Financial Geography (FinGeo) was founded at the University of Oxford in 2015. It is an open and interdisciplinary network of academics, practitioners and experts interested in research on the spatiality of money and finance and its implications for the economy, society, and nature.

The journal Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space was founded in 1969, it is published by Sage and remains one of the most influential journals in the fields of urban and regional geography and related disciplines. It is a pluralist and heterodox journal of economic research, principally concerned with questions of urban and regional restructuring, globalization, inequality, and uneven development.
For more information about FinGeo, see:
For more information about the 1st FinGeo Global Conference on Financial Geography, see:
For more information about the journal Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, see:

Dr. Oliveira presents his research at the China Agricultural University

How Soybeans (Dis)Connect the US, China and Brazil

Dr. Gustavo de L. T. Oliveira

Visiting Assistant Professor, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University

Assistant Professor, Department of Global and International Studies, UC Irvine

May 16, 2019

12:30p.m. – 13:30p.m.

China Agricultural University, East Campus, Democracy Building 240

Soybeans were first domesticated in China thousands of years ago, and they became a truly global commodity through US geopolitical hegemony during the 20th century. But now Brazil surpassed the US to become the largest exporter of this agricultural commodity, which has in China its largest market. So when the US initiated a trade war in 2018, and China responded by raising counter-tariffs on soybeans imported from the US, Brazilian soy exports to China gained even greater geopolitical importance. These connections between China, Brazil, and the US through soy trade are usually treated as a “natural” result of the limited farmland in China in relation to its large population, the abundance of natural resources in Brazil, and the technological advancement of US agribusiness. In this paper, I adopt a political ecology framework to challenge this mainstream view. I reveal the political drivers and ecological contradictions of the global agroindustrial restructuring that connects and disconnects China, Brazil, and the United States through soybeans – and argue that instead of seeing these problems as simple geopolitical struggle between countries, and calling for smoother international soy trade among them, we should shift debate to the underlying class politics and ecological contradictions of transnational soybean agribusiness, which foreclose agroecological alternatives that can strengthen food sovereignty in Brazil, the US, and China alike.

Contact: Fu Chuchu, WeChat ID: wxid_0isvkzb64em522


Dr. Oliveira published in Idéias

Dr. Oliveira’s article “The resistance to Chinese land grabs in Brazil since 2008: Lessons and agroecological alternatives” has just been published in a special issue on Brazil-China Relations in the journal Idéias.

ABSTRACT: The goal of this article is to describe and theorize the recent history of resistance to Chinese acquisitions of farmland in Brazil in order to enable a clear and useful discussion of the victories and challenges of the resistance to foreignization of land and the advancement of transnational and domestic agribusiness; and also to allow for the development of agroecological alternatives for Brazil-China relations. Employing theories of narratives in the articulation of social movements and methods of global ethnography, based upon 27 months of fieldwork in Brazil and China, I argue an alliance of convenience between certain agribusiness sectors and social movements were able to effectively dismantle the largest attempts at acquiring farmland by Chinese agribusinesses in Brazil. On the other hand, since these efforts maintained focus on direct acquisitions of farmland, this resistance was unable to affect the indirect incorporation of Brazilian land by Chinese agribusinesses that acquired operational companies in Brazil. Moreover, the role of Chinese capital in what has been called “foreignization of land” in Brazil has been relatively small. Therefore, I conclude that the strong focus on Chinese capital and on direct acquisitions of rural property did not target the main dynamics of foreignization of land, even if they effectively dismantled the main Chinese attempts to grab land in Brazil. Yet there are great opportunities for the development of agroecological initiatives between Brazil and China that could orient investments and partnerships in South-South solidarity, strengthening national and food sovereignty in both countries against the advancement of transnational agribusiness.

KEYWORDS: Brazil, China, foreignization of land, social movements, networks, narratives

Idéias is an interdisciplinary journal published by the Institute of Philosophy and Humanities of the University of Campinas (UNICAMP). It distinguishes itself among academic journals in Brazil for publishing cutting-edge research and interdisciplinary special issues on hotly debated current events, resulting in high-impact factors in the disciplines of humanities, urban and regional planning, law, philosophy, history, sociology, anthropology, and political science, among others.

For the full-length article (in Portuguese), see:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.20396/ideias.v9i2.8655285

Dr. Oliveira presents his research at the University of York

Dr. Oliveira was invited to participate in the International and Interdisciplinary Workshop on “Promoting Effective Sustainability Governance in Soy Global Supply Chains”. The event was organized by the IKnowFood and N8 Agrifood research networks, and hosted by the University of York, UK. The workshop took place on March 25, 2019, and “brought together some of the world’s leading scholars, alongside soy food systems stakeholders, to share state-of-the-art (predominantly social) scientific research, civil society and industry perspectives.”

Dr. Oliveira presented his research on “Brazil, China, US, and the Underlying Class Politics of Global Soybeans.”

For further information on the workshop and this Soy Governance Research Initiative, contact: Dr. Tony Heron, tony.heron@york.ac.uk


Dr. Oliveira presents his research at the UCI International Studies Public Forum

The Political Ecology and Geopolitics of Chinese Investments in Brazilian Agribusiness

Dr. Gustavo de L. T. Oliveira

Assistant Professor, Department of Global and International Studies, UCI

February 7, 2019

5:00p.m. – 6:20p.m.

Social Science Plaza A, Room 1100

The global geography and political economy of food and farming are shifting dramatically. US and European companies dominated international markets during the 20th century, but now a new world order is emerging with growing exports from Brazil and mushrooming imports from China. These new trade flows are intimately associated with transformations in local environments and global politics, and they have been driving high-profile Chinese investments in Brazilian agribusiness during the past decade. During this period, a powerful discourse emerged that China is the leading “land grabber” in Brazil, which in turn empowered a far-right movement against Chinese investments and the Brazilian leftist governments that cultivated closer Brazil-China political relations. In this lecture, Oliveira discusses how we should understand these political, economic, and ecological processes that connect China and Brazil, and transform global relations. Most narratives highlight the abundance of natural resources in Brazil, and the scarcity of land in China, as a natural basis for the “comparative advantage” that drives such trade and investments. Oliveira argues this “naturalizes” a new and radically fabricated agro-ecological arrangement of people, plants, animals and industries in Brazil, China and elsewhere; and in fact, they do not identify the fundamental drivers of this global agro-industrial restructuring. As he explains, China’s massive imports from Brazil stem from its rapid urbanization and a shortage of rural labor, while Brazilian exports do not result from an abundance of land and natural resources, but rather from the forced dispossession of peasants from their land and the wholesale sacrifice of vulnerable ecosystems. Moreover, Chinese investments in farmland largely failed to materialize, and linger far behind land grabs by investors from the US, EU, Japan, and even Latin America itself. Instead, successful Chinese investments in Brazilian agribusiness have focused on trading infrastructure, which places them as a component of China’s attempt to reorganize global trade and geopolitics through its New Silk Road projects.

Contact: Jessica Cañas-Castañeda, jcanas@uci.edu

Sponsor: Department of Global and International Studies

Dr. Oliveira published in Territory, Politics, Governance

Dr. Oliveira’s article Boosters, brokers, bureaucrats and businessmen: assembling Chinese capital with Brazilian agribusiness” has just been published a special issue on “Grounding China’s Global Integration” in the journal Territory, Politics, Governance.

ABSTRACT: My purpose in this paper is to deepen the literature on Chinese foreign investments (particularly in Brazilian agribusiness), and the formation of a transnational capitalist class, by utilizing practices of global ethnography and the conceptual apparatus of ‘assemblages’ emerging in human geography. I trace the genealogy of the Chinese-owned Brazilian company BBCA Brazil and its agroindustrial project in Mato Grosso do Sul state, since it is illustrative of the conditions of possibility for Chinese direct investments in agribusiness in Brazil and Brazil–China agroindustrial partnerships more generally. I argue the central characters of this story aptly illustrate the transnational class of boosters, brokers, bureaucrats and businessmen who rise by assembling Chinese capital with Brazilian (agri)business expertise, labour and land. It is the particular work of assemblage and set of skills of these characters, especially those operating at the ‘middle levels’ of state and corporate governance, that both enables the successful implementation of transnational investments, and also explains why such projects propel them while marginalizing others, increasing social inequality, and aggravating environmental degradation.

KEYWORDS: ChinaBrazilforeign direct investmentsglobalizationtransnational corporationstransnational capitalist classglobal ethnographyassemblage


Territory, Politics, Governance is an interdisciplinary journal from the Regional Studies Association. It is “committed to the development of theory and research in territorial politics and the governance of space,” emphasizing publications on globalization, territorial identities and politics, and multi-level governance, among other topics.