There have been a couple ‘special issues’ on China-Africa affairs in various journals. One such collection is the Africa Studies Review Forum on Africa and China (vol 56, issue 1). Monson and Rupp’s article, “Africa and China: New Engagements, New Research“, is the introductory piece for the forum.
Summary: This introduction focuses on four points: (1) the “field” of China-Africa studies; (2) the historical evolution of China-Africa studies; (3) the importance of using qualitative as well as quantitative research methods; and, (4) the importance of interdisciplinary work. Monson and Rupp question if China-Africa research falls under the field of “area studies” and if it makes sense to study the relationship of a nation-state (China) with a continent (Africa). They argue that clear sub-themes are emerging in China-Africa research and that many of these themes would benefit from ethnographic research approaches. In contrast, the history of scholarship on Africa-China relations has been primarily about understanding how China’s policies and strategies in Africa affect international affairs, especially Western affairs. Monson and Rupp conclude that China-Africa studies “is best understood when it is both grounded in and in conversation with area studies knowledge” (39).
Reflections: This piece serves as a good introduction to China-Africa studies. It also provides a good foothold into more nuanced China-Africa research.