Dr. Oliveira published in the Journal of Contemporary China

The Tenuous Co-Production of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Brazil and Latin America

 

Dr. Oliveira’s article “The Tenuous Co-Production of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Brazil and Latin America“, co-authored with Margaret Myers, has just been published in the Journal of Contemporary China.

 

Abstract

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, this article argues 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, the article emphasizes the process of co-production as a theoretical framework. It first analyzes how the BRI incorporated Latin America through policy and discourse analysis, then examines the multi-scalar and multi-sited co-production of Chinese-funded port and railroad infrastructures through interviews and public documents in Brazil.

Keywords: China; Brazil; Latin America; Belt and Road Initiative; Co-production; Infrastructure; Ports; Railroads; International Relations

The Journal of Contemporary China was established in 1992. It has become one of the most prominent interdisciplinary journals of Chinese studies, and since 2011 it has featured in the top quartertile of journals in political science, international relations, geography, planning, and development. It is one of the preeminent forums for research and debate about China’s Belt and Road Initiative, having published over fifty articles on this topic in the past five years.

For the full length article, see: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10670564.2020.1827358

Dr. Oliveira publishes a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Development Studies

Authoritarianism, Populism, Nationalism and Resistance in the Agrarian South

Dr. Oliveira’s article “Authoritarianism, Populism, Nationalism and Resistance in the Agrarian South” has just been published as the guest editor’s introduction to a special issue the Canadian Journal of Development Studies.

The article is co-authored with Ben McKay and Juan Liu, who also co-edited the special issue.

ABSTRACT: This special section contributes to the vibrant debates concerning the “new political moment” underway with regards to “authoritarian populism” and nationalism in the agrarian South. With neoliberal globalisation in crisis, nationalist-populist and authoritarian movements are gaining ground, often transforming state and class configurations in ways that appease landed, agro-industrial and political elites, while simultaneously seeking to neutralise forms of resistance. Rather than starting from an ambiguous concept that submerges these class conflicts and contradictions, we argue that re-centering class struggles that frame the new political moment offers a more useful framework for understanding agrarian transformation in the contemporary period.

KEYWORDS: Authoritarianism, populism, nationalism, resistance, agrarian change

 

The Canadian Journal of Development Studies is a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary, bilingual (English and French) forum for critical research and reflection on the complex problems of international development theory, policy and practice. Founded in 1980, the CJDS remains the only Canadian scholarly journal devoted exclusively to the study of international development. It is published quarterly by the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development.

For the full-length article, see: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02255189.2020.1814707 

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.

Abstract

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 publishes a special issue of 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.

Conclusion

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 presents at the Global Studies Colloquium, UC Santa Barbara

“A Global Ethnography of Chinese Investments in Brazilian Agribusiness”

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

Thursday, February 20 at 12:30pm to 2:00pm

The Department of Global Studies’ Colloquium Series is a lecture and lunch series, which has been made possible by the generosity of the Orfalea Endowment for the Master’s Program in Global Studies.  The Colloquium Series strives to open and explore a wide range of interdisciplinary debates and their interaction and engagement with the global, hosting new guest speakers each quarter from UCSB and beyond.  The upcoming event will be hosted in the SSMS 2001 conference room in the Global Studies Department on Thursday, February 20th at 12:30pm. Please see below for the featured talk:

“A Global Ethnography of Chinese Investments in Brazilian Agribusiness”

In the aftermath of the global food price and financial crisis of 2008, Chinese investments in Brazilian agribusiness mushroomed and two narratives emerged: either these are new South-South flows that sustain economic growth and development despite the crisis in the global North; or they are essentially land grabs that deepen Brazil’s neocolonial dependency on its new primary trade partner. Both narratives, however, regard Chinese agro industrial capital as homogenous and oversimplify it as a “global force” that has “local impacts” in Brazil and beyond. Missing from the literature is attention to the specific actors who co-produce these business deals, a transnational class of agribusiness professionals who advance their own affluence and influence by assembling Chinese capital with Brazilian land, labor, and expertise. In order to properly examine these actors and their co-production of Brazil-China agro-industrial partnerships, I advance theories and methods of global studies that are especially useful for the multiscalar and multi-sited fieldwork this research requires, viz. global ethnography and theories of assemblage and transnational class formation. I triangulate data from government, media, and company reports, field site observations, and semi-structured interviews with the boosters, brokers, bureaucrats, and businessmen who assemble Chinese capital with Brazilian agribusiness, and situate this material in relation to similar data about the political ecological struggles unfolding at the sites of investment across Brazil. Thus, my research reveals (1) the forms of power and interest bring these investments into being, and (2) their effect upon the Brazilian territory, model of development, and environment. Ultimately, I argue we can distinguish between “Paper Tigers”, companies that were feared as powerful land grabbers and relied on Brazilian political contacts but largely failed to effectively establish themselves in Brazil, and “Dragon Heads”, companies that undertook global-level mergers and acquisitions to bypass the challenges of management and socio-ecological resistance. Shifting theoretical and methodological focus to the career interests and assemblage methods undertaken by transnational agribusiness professionals who plan, produce, and profit from these endeavors, my scholarship reveals Chinese investments in Brazilian agribusiness are not determined by institutional characteristics and international relations, but rather by the class and ecological contradictions that undergird transnational agribusiness in these new hubs of global capital.

Dr. Gustavo de L. T. Oliveira is assistant professor in the Department of Global and International Studies at UC Irvine. He obtained his PhD in geography from UC Berkeley, a postdoctoral fellowship in environmental studies at Swarthmore College, and was visiting assistant professor of economic geography at Peking University. His current book project examines Chinese investments in Brazilian agribusiness and infrastructure. His work has been published in Development and Change, Globalizations, the Journal of Latin American Geography, Journal of Peasant Studies, and Territory, Politics, Governance, among others. He co-edited (with Susanna Hecht) a special issue of the Journal of Peasant Studies that has been republished as a book Soy, Globalization, and Environmental Politics in South America (Routledge, 2018), and is co-editing special issues on “China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Views from the Ground” for the journal Political Geography and another on “New Insights on Land Grabs in the BRICS and Global South” for the journal Globalizations.
For more information about the Colloquium Series, please contact Professor Jan Nederveen Pieterse, Global Studies Colloquium Director:
jnp@global.ucsb.edu

 UCSB Social Sciences and Media Studies Building, SSMS Conference Room 2001 (2nd Floor)

 

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 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:
http://www.fingeo.net/
For more information about the 1st FinGeo Global Conference on Financial Geography, see:
http://fingeo.bnu.edu.cn/index.html
For more information about the journal Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, see:
https://journals.sagepub.com/home/epn

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