CSC Monthly Seminar:Exporting Infrastructure: The Origin of the Culture of Self-Sufficiency in Chinese International Construction Companies

4 October 2017

Extensive Chinese architectural export began in 1956 as part of overseas aid programs within the Cold War context. In the decades that followed, the Chinese built construction projects ranging from roads and railways to major national buildings in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Since China’s economic reforms in 1978, many international construction companies have been established and grown rapidly. China now possesses the largest and most competitive construction industry in the world, and is expanding its infrastructure export to the world. With over 3,000 projects in Africa, Chinese companies now dominate the African construction sector. Despite contributions made to the local infrastructure, however, debate is growing over the fact that Chinese international Construction Companies (CICCs) typically use Chinese rather than local workers in these projects and whether such practice benefits local economy in the long run. This talk traces the CICCs’ unique way of doing things back to the era when the Chinese government provided aid to developing countries. Based on extensive interviews and archival research, it provides an account of how the culture of self-sufficiency was first developed in politically-driven aid projects and became deeply entrenched in CICCs over time.

Speaker

Duanfang Lu is Professor of Architecture and Urbanism in the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney. She has published widely on modern architectural and planning history, and been awarded prestigious research grants from Australian Research Council, Getty Foundation and the US Social Science Research Council, as well as the Best Article Prize from Planning Perspectives and the International Planning History Society (2006–7). Lu’s book Remaking Chinese Urban Form (Routledge, 2006, 2011) provides a significant new perspective on the development of the work unit (danwei) – the socialist enterprise or institute which integrated work and living spaces – as a primary urban form under Maoist socialism. Her edited book Third World Modernism (Routledge, 2010) opens up whole new perspectives on the development of modernist architecture in developing countries in the 1950s and 1960s. The conceptual framework on entangled modernities she develops through a series of articles has been used by scholars and students across the world to investigate non-Western built environments. Her anthology The Routledge Companion to Contemporary Architectural History will be published in 2018. She is currently working on a monograph New Book of Changes: The Way of China and Its Urbanization. Lu has been an Australian Research Council Future Fellow (2012–16), Board Director of the Society of Architectural Historians and its Chair of International Committee (2012–15), and co-founder and Vice-President of Society of Architectural and Urban Historians – Asia (2016–present, www.sahasia.org).

Event details



CSC Monthly Seminar:Exporting Infrastructure: The Origin of the Culture of Self-Sufficiency in Chinese International Construction Companies

Where New Law School Annexe SR344
Eastern Avenue
The University of Sydney
When

4 October 2017


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