Dr. Oliveira published in Applied Geography

Global-local interactions in agrochemical industry: Relating trade regulations in Brazil to environmental and spatial restructuring in China

Dr. Oliveira’s article “Global-local interactions in agrochemical industry: Relating trade regulations in Brazil to environmental and spatial restructuring in China“, co-authored with He Canfei and Ma Jiahui, has just been published in Applied Geography.


China and Brazil are the world’s leading exporter and importer of agrochemicals respectively. We combine quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze global-local interactions in the spatial restructuring of China’s agrochemical industry in relation to a 2006 agrochemical import-acceleration policy in Brazil. We synthesize global political ecology and evolutionary economic geography (EEG) research on environmental regulations, technological upgrading, and the spatial transformations of China’s pollution-intensive industries, discussing arguments that the Pollution Haven Hypothesis (PHH) and Porter Hypothesis (PH) co-exist due to firm heterogeneity. While existing studies conceptualize heterogeneity in terms of firm size, regional hub (cluster) effect, and local government intervention, this study adds global-local interactions as dimension of firm heterogeneity – distinguishing firms with weak and strong international linkages. We show the import-acceleration policy in Brazil contributed to the de-concentration of agrochemical production towards western China (confirming the PHH). Yet increasingly strict environmental regulations in China curtailed de-concentration after 2010, when well-established firms and new entrants with strong international linkages consolidated exports to Brazil, while new firms with weaker international linkages exited this market (confirming the PH). This co-existence of PHH and PH due to firm-level heterogeneity of global-local interactions illustrates a theoretical synthesis we call an evolutionary political economic geography (EPEG).

Keywords: Evolutionary economic geography; Global political ecology; Global-local interactions; Pollution haven hypothesis; Porter hypothesis; Chemical industry

Applied Geography is a journal devoted to the publication of research which utilizes geographic approaches (human, physical, nature-society and GIScience) to resolve human problems that have a spatial dimension. These problems may be related to the assessment, management and allocation of the world’s physical and/or human resources. The underlying rationale of the journal is that only through a clear understanding of the relevant societal, physical, and coupled natural-humans systems can we resolve such problems. The journal was founded in 1980, and consistently ranks among the top journals of geography, planning, development studies, and environmental science.

For the full length article, see: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2020.102244


Dr. Oliveira published in Political Geography

China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Views from the Ground

Dr. Oliveira’s article “China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Views from the Ground” has just been published as the guest editor’s introduction to a special issue Political Geography.

The article is co-authored with Galen Murton, Alessandro Rippa, Tyler Harlan, and Yang Yang, who also co-edited the special issue.


ABSTRACT: The Chinese government promotes the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a global strategy for regional integration and infrastructure investment. With a projected US$1 trillion commitment from Chinese financial institutions, and at least 138 countries participating, the BRI is attracting intense debate. Yet most analysis to date focuses on broad drivers, risks, and opportunities, largely considered to be emanating from a coherent policy imposed by Beijing. In this special issue, we instead examine the BRI as a relational, contested process – a bundle of intertwined discourses, policies, and projects that sometimes align but are sometimes contradictory. We move beyond policy-level, macro-economic, and classic geopolitical analysis to study China’s global investments “from the ground”. Our case studies reveal the BRI to be dynamic and unstable, rhetorically appropriated for different purposes that sometimes but do not always coalesce as a coherent geopolitical and geoeconomic strategy. The papers in this special issue provide one of the first collections of deep empirical work on the BRI and a useful approach for grounding China’s role in globalization in the critical contexts of complex local realities.

KEYWORDS: China, Belt and Road Initiative, political geography, globalization, theory and methods, global ethnography.


Political Geography is the flagship journal of political geography and advances knowledge in all aspects of the geographical and spatial dimensions of politics and the political. It was established in 1982, consistently ranks among the most high impact and well regarded journals across the disciplines of geography, history, political science, sociology, and interdisciplinary social sciences.

For the full-length article, see: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2020.102225

Dr. Oliveira presents his research at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

Video of lecture at UFRRJ, July 31, 2020

Video of lecture at UFRRJ, July 31, 2020

Dr. Oliveira published in the Edward Elgar Handbook of Critical Agrarian Studies

BRICS and Global Agrarian Transformations

Gustavo de L. T. Oliveira and Ben McKay

Dr. Oliveira’s co-authored chapter “BRICS and Global Agrarian Transformations” has just been accepted for publication in the The Handbook of Critical Agrarian Studies, edited by Haroon Akram-Lodhi, Kristina Dietz, Bettina Engels, and Ben McKay , edited by Matthew Himley, Elizabeth Havice, and Gabriela Valdivia. The edited volume is forthcoming from Edward Elgar.


Understanding the rise of emerging economies like the BRICS is central to analysis of contemporary global agrarian transformations. Yet it is not simply their associated geopolitical transformations that call attention from, and provide new insights for critical agrarian studies. The point is not to debate whether new agribusiness companies and development models from the BRICS are a success of resistance to the Global North, or a new sub-imperialist project against middle-income and the least developed countries. Instead, these global agrarian transformations must be rooted in the conflicts and contradictions within emerging economies themselves, as subaltern actors struggle for food sovereignty and agroecology in a protracted struggle against neoliberal elites, populist authoritarianism, and conservative nationalist movements. Our goal here is not to fully describe and analyze these struggles and their repercussions for global agrarian change, but rather to emphasize that such conflicts and heterogeneities are the most fruitful springboard for new insights in critical agrarian studies. Debates that focus upon “global convergence”, “multipolarity” and “new development paradigms” but understate grounded socio-ecological struggles and transformations (cf. West 2014; Reeves 2018) are misguided and misplaced in the social sciences in general, and critical agrarian studies in particular. As climate change advances further and the socio-ecological foundations of human life become increasingly more unstable and vulnerable, new theories, methodologies, and debates are required. The dramatic transformation of the global political economy of food and farming due to the rise of the BRICS is fertile ground for the cultivation of such new ways of thinking, and critical agrarian scholars from these regions are stepping up to the task at hand, inviting colleagues who remain snagged in the provincial terms of bygone scholarship rooted in fallen and decaying empires.

More information on the The Edward Elgar Handbook of Critical Agrarian Studies will be available shortly.

Author’s original manuscript of the chapter available here.

Dr. Oliveira discusses China-Latin America relations at the Foreign Policy Association: Great Decisions Program in Newport Beach

The Foreign Policy Association has been running the Great Decisions Program since 1954, as the country’s largest discussion of world affairs.

Dr. Gustavo Oliveira was invited to present his research and lead discussion on “The co-production of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Latin America” at the Newport Beach meeting of the Foreign Policy Association: Great Decisions Program.

The event was held at the community center of the St. Mark Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach, CA. March 2, 2020.

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

Is Brazil economic prey to Chinese agribusiness investors?

Dr. Gustavo de L. T. Oliveira, Department of Global and International Studies, UC Irvine

Invited presentation to the UC Berkeley Latin American Leadership Society Bi-annual Forum: Brazil, Economic Prey, Development

230 Cheit Hall, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley

December 5, 2019 5:00 – 7:30pm

The UC Berkeley Latin American Leadership Society (LLS) is made up of people from very diverse backgrounds with profound interest in Latin America, be it the current political and economical scene, the region’s rich culture and traditions, or the growing influence of Latin American communities in the United States. The LLS bi-annual forum is one of its main mediums for educating UC Berkeley about the current topics in Latin America. Every semester, the Latin American Leadership Society (LLS) exercises the great honor to host distinguished guests from around Latin America. Our past speakers include Former President of Mexico, Vicente Fox, Mexican political analyst and academic, Denise Dresser, Brazil’s Supreme Court Justice, Luís Roberto Barroso, Emmy nominated journalist and producer, Andrés Cediel—just to name a few. The aim is to cover different areas of interest and disciplines that ultimately unites keen UC Berkeley students to promote collaboration between nations and to contribute to the development of Latin America. This semester the forum will focus on development and economic prey in Brazil.

Guest speakers:

Gustavo Oliveira has extensive research experience in fields like Chinese investments in Brazilian agribusiness and infrastructure, global political ecology, race, and environment to name a few. Oliveira is also a professor at the University of California, Irvine and is a UC Berkeley alumnus!

Flavio Feferman has extensive research experience in fields like entrepreneurship and innovation in developing regions, the role of business and technology in economic development, innovation clusters and regional economic development, agricultural development, entrepreneurial education, and international consulting. Feferman is also a professor for UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

Bruno Meyerhof Salama is Professor of Law at the FGV School of Law at São Paulo, Brazil, where he is also a director of the Center for Law, Economics, and Governance!

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: