New book of member

Katy N. Lam, Research Fellow of the research group and Assistant Professor in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, has recently published a book entitled, Chinese State Owned Enterprises in West Africa: A Triple-Embedded Globalization. with Routledge.


This book investigates the globalization process of Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in West Africa, primarily in Benin and Ghana, based on ethnographic research. It challenges the dominant vision of “a powerful China in Africa”, and argues that the so-called “Chinese business advantages” – monolithic Chinese state and Chinese low cost advantages, are non-viable for sustaining Chinese business development in the continent. Considering the Chinese SOEs globalization process in a relational approach, this book examines how the triple embeddedness (Chinese, African and managerial) shapes the Chinese SOEs globalization process over time and space, in diverse dimensions and among different entities – the Chinese state, Chinese SOEs, Chinese expatriates, the African government, African business partners, African staff, and the African society. It illustrates that the Chinese central state has “retreated” deliberately from its SOE globalization in Africa. The Chinese SOEs and Chinese expats are the major actors in initiating and inventing globalization strategies, facing limited Chinese state support and the African neopatrimonial governance and social contexts. Besides, the personal trajectories (from expatriation to social promotion) of Chinese SOE expats interweave with the globalization-turn-localization of their SOEs in Africa. Rejecting the linear, static and binary vision of “powerful China in powerless Africa”, the present study thus emphasizes power dynamics in Chinese SOEs’ globalization process are organic and pluralistic though in certain extent hierarchical –”second-class”. Time and local relations are key elements constituting the real Chinese advantages for Chinese SOEs vis-a-vis their ultimate competitors – not Western companies, but other Chinese companies.

Table of contents


For a detailed table of contents, please click TOC_Chinese SOEs in West Africa

Workshop: Global South perspectives

20. April 2017
Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong

Update: The abstract submission deadline has been extended until the 31st of March, 2017!

Keynote speaker: Matthew M. Chew

Europe’s expansion during the last five centuries has shaped the world economically, politically and culturally, and initiated a range of global inequalities that persist until today. This includes global inequalities in the academy: At its core are scholars,  perspectives, concerns, theories, methodological approaches, and objects of investigation from dominant groups in the Global North. Perspectives of scholars from the Global South and of minority scholars in the Global North continue to play a marginal role. We may be missing much in our understanding of the world if we investigate it mainly from the perspectives of dominant groups. The goal of this workshop is to provide an interdisciplinary platform that brings together scholars from the Global South, minority scholars from the Global North, and scholars working on North-South relations, in order to start filling gaps in knowledge and perspectives, and to work toward a better North-South balance in academia.

This workshop wishes to facilitate a dialogue among research that advances our understanding on Global South, minorities in the Global North, perspectives on theory, methodology and methods, empirical work in the Global South, and Global South groups in the Global North. Examples of relevant topics include national and global inequality and stratification, globalization (including its economic, political, cultural and discursive elements), South-to-South and North-to-South migration, decolonization, indigenous-settler-relations, race and ethnicity and (anti-)racism. The workshop is open to a wide range of issues and strongly encourages submissions of relevant topics not listed above.

The following tentative panels are planned for the workshop:

Culture and (post)colonialism in Hong Kong

Re-theorizing gender and sexuality in non-Western contexts

Race and ethnicity in Hong Kong: Racial harmony or racial hegemony?

The globalized economy and local contexts

Understanding Chinese mobility

Transcending the North-South dichotomy

Topic of the keynote speech: Cultural inequality

Submission: Please submit abstracts (max. 250 words) and panels to Deadline: 31. March 2017

Application from pre-tenure academics, including assistant professors, postdocs & graduate students is especially encouraged!

This workshop is presented by:
The Joint Research Group on Migration, China and the Global Context
Max Weber Foundation
Faculty of Social Sciences, Hong Kong Baptist University

Please send inquiries to:

Conference presentation at ISA RC 54 “The Challenge of the Global Migrant” in Rome, Italy

Caroline Schöpf presented a paper at the International Sociological Association RC54 conference “The Challenge of the Global Migrant” in Rome, Italy. The presentation received positive feedback and sparked an interesting and fruitful discussion. The following paper was presented:








Cultural difference or cultural inequality? An extended case study of the
experience of ‘cultural difference’ between highly skilled South Asian and
White sojourners in Hong Kong.

Caroline Schöpf,  Max Weber Foundation; Hong Kong Baptist University

Most studies investigating the societal reception of migrants have been conducted
on cases of migration to higher developed countries, which, as I argue, is leading
to a conflation of the factors of ‘cultural difference,’ ‘societal power relations’ and
‘global power relations’. There is a lack of studies that seek to conceptually
disentangle these factors. This study compares the experience of ‘cultural
difference’ between highly skilled South Asian and White sojourners in Hong Kong.
Drawing on ethnographic data and in-depth interviews, I show that the experience
of ‘cultural difference’ is qualitatively different for the two groups of sojourners:
White sojourners primarily experience forms of positive ‘othering’ and
cross-cultural misunderstandings in the work place while enjoying an overall
positive and sometimes privileged societal reception. Conversely, for South Asian
sojourners, ‘cultural difference’ is experienced much more frequently in the form of
negative ‘othering’, devaluation and every-day racism. I review the literature of
migration and culture, prejudice, and attitudes towards immigrants and show that
the explanatory models offered there cannot fully account for these discrepancies.
I argue that the discontinuities between the experience of ‘cultural difference’ of
South Asian and White sojourners in Hong Kong can be best explained with two
approaches: A systemic racism approach focusing on societal inter-ethnic power
relations, and a world-system theory approach focusing on global power

The first Migration Café

Language and Integration in Asia's World City.v3.3The Joint Research Group organized the first Migration Cafe on 16 Dec 2015. The Migration Cafe is an informal and open exchange platform for discussing migration-related topics around a cup of coffee/tea. The first get-together focused on whether the emphasis on the Cantonese Language as the key to successful “integration” of South Asians into Hong Kong society is actually justified, or if it serves to hide or normalize underlying racial and class hierarchies, by comparing experiences of Westerners in Hong Kong that are not pressured to learn the local language at all. The exchange was lively. Dr. Kara Fleming from the University of Hong Kong, an expert of the topic, led the discussion of that afternoon. Over 20 people from different universities in Hong Kong, and of diverse ethnic origins, participated actively in the discussion. Many expressed their experiences and opinions on the topic both on professional and personal levels.

3rd Young Scholars’ Conference on China Studies, Hong Kong

The Third Young Scholars’ Conference on China Studies was held in Hong Kong on 14-15 December 2015. The Max Weber Foundation was one of the co-organizers. Prof. Ricardo Mak, Project Leader of the Joint Research Group and Prof. Franz Waldenberger, Director of the German Institute for Japanese Studies Tokyo, delivered speeches in the opening ceremony.

The members presented their research findings in different panels. Katy Lam made a presentation on “Renegotiating Ethnic Identity in Africa: Chinese “Imagined Community”. Elaine Gao Fan talked about “Rethinking Translocality in Hong Kong: Parallel Trader or Migrant Sibling”.  Caroline Schöpf discussed the topic “Some Non-locals Need to Change, Other Don’t: Intergroup Attitudes and the Framing of Outgroup Behavior”.

Young Scholars Prof Mak Young Scholars Prof Waldenberger Young Scholars GF Young Scholars CS

“Voyages, Migration and the Maritime Silk Road” symposium, Hong Kong

China Global HistoryThe symposium on “Voyages, Migration and the Maritime Silk Road: An International Symposium on China’s Role in Global History”, was held in Hong Kong on 7-8 December 2015. Prof. Ricardo Mak, Project Leader of the Joint Research Group and Director of the Advanced Institute for Contemporary China Studies of HKBU, which was one of the symposium’s organizers, officiated at the opening ceremony. Both Prof. Ricardo Mak and Katy Lam were invited to discuss their research in this symposium. Prof. Ricardo Mak gave a presentation on “The Search for Spiritual Inwardness in Modern Society: Zong Baihua’s (1897-1986) Aesthetic Vision”. Katy Lam presented a paper on “Retreat of the Chinese State: Globalization History of Chinese State-owned Entreprises in Africa.”

Inaugural meeting of the joint research group

529 inaugural meetingThe Joint Research Group and its activities were officially initiated after an inaugural meeting held on May 29, 2015, in Hong Kong. Senior members of both institutions attended the meeting including Prof. Hans van Ess (President, Max Weber Stiftung), Dr. Harald Rosenbach (Chief Executive Director, Max Weber Stiftung), Prof. Franz Waldenberger (Director, German Institute for Japanese Studies Tokyo), Mr. Joachim Röhr (Administrative Director, German Institute for Japanese Studies Tokyo), as well as Prof. Rick Wong (Vice-President Research & Development of the HKBU) and Prof. Adrian J. Bailey (Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences, HKBU). They extended their appreciation and wish for enhancing exchange and development of academic knowledge across Europe and Asia, humanities and social sciences through this collaboration effort.