In recent decades, Kenya has witnessed profound changes in its economic, cultural, and environmental landscapes resulting from its interactions with China. University students are competing for scholarships to study in China, coastal artisanal fishers are increasingly worried about Chinese-owned trawlers depleting fish stocks, fishers on Lake Victoria are grappling with the impact of frozen tilapia from China, and unemployed youth are seeking a fair shot at working on one of Kenya’s multimillion-dollar Chinese-funded infrastructure projects. Anita Plummer’s Kenya’s Engagement with China investigates the tension between official Kenyan and Chinese state narratives and individual Kenyans’ reactions to China’s presence to provide insight into how everyday Kenyans exercise their political agency. The competing discourses Plummer uncovers in person, in the news, and online reveal how Kenyans use China to question local power structures, demand policy change, and articulate different visions for their country’s future. This critical text represents the next step in research on Sino-African relations.
“There has been substantial debate in the literature in recent years about African agency in engagements with China. This groundbreaking, extensively researched book recasts the debate to show the decisive role of publics in these relations, exploding myths of universal, internal or external state capture. This is essential reading for all those
interested in these issues.”
—PÁDRAIG CARMODY, coauthor, Africa’s Shadow Rise: China and the Mirage of African Economic Development