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Accepted Paper:

From great expectations to great delusions: the temporality and unevenness of a Chinese infrastructure development project in Ghana  
Costanza Franceschini (University of Milano-Bicocca)

Paper Short Abstract:

Based on thirteen months of fieldwork research on a Chinese-financed and built infrastructure project in Ghana, the paper illustrates the imaginaries, promises, expectations, and delusions produced by Sino-Ghanaian infrastructural development in the local communities involved.

Paper Abstract:

The GFPLS project, a Chinese-funded and -built infrastructure project that included the construction of fishing ports and landing sites in twelve communities along the Ghanaian coast, has been characterised by long waits, delays, and challenges over time. Initially, the project raised high expectations among the communities involved. However, more than fifteen years passed between the first announcement of the project and its actual implementation. Moreover, as the project progressed, it became clear that things were not going as planned. In the end, as a result of design errors and technical (and political) decisions, the project has caused more problems than benefits for local people, especially local fishermen. In addition, although the project was promoted as providing valuable employment opportunities for local workers, Ghanaian workers employed by the Chinese SOE described working conditions on the Chinese construction sites as less than desirable.

This paper illustrates that while the hopes and delusions of local workers were more related to the characteristics of employment dynamics and labour relations within Chinese SOEs in Ghana, the delays, changes, and failures in infrastructure construction and design were more a result of the heterogeneous actor configurations and global assemblages that shape contemporary Chinese construction projects in Ghana.

At the same time, the paper shows how, in the case of the GFPLS project, all these dynamics, as different forms of contemporary encounters with global China, have contributed to the production of collective and individual hopes and aspirations, as well as disenchantments and delusions, at the local level.

Panel P064
Temporal encounters with global China
  Session 1 Wednesday 24 July, 2024, -