Globalization and Institutional Voids - China Policy in Africa

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Abstract

Globalization is a natural social phenomenon since the beginning of human development on earth. We can go back to the evolution of Neanderthal to Homo sapiens. Geography and communications gave different shapes to regional or thematic globalizations. Circumstances of technological evolution develop with the basic factors of globalization to a planetary platform (or standard) where the same factors achieve a different nature, time becomes more simultaneous and impacts more instantaneous and universal. Institutional Voids may be seen as “new business opportunities in emerging countries”, as is the opinion of many economic annalists, but they may also be studied from a historical and cultural point of view. Regarding this second approach, I will make some considerations, taking as examples cases that I personally know better, but that can be considered as paradigmatic. I will take as case-studies some African countries; the way these Institutional Voids were formed during the first big globalization of early-modern times - the XV, XVI and XVII centuries - when Portugal was an important international player, and I shall prove the disastrous consequences to those societies on a medium and long-term period. On the other hand, considering the present global paradigm, China seems to act by an alternative model, which may help correcting earlier mistakes by the Western approach to African countries, which can be defined as the colonialist era. We just have to consider the Kingdoms of Benin and Oyo. Both were nations with a big international trade, at the time, or the Kingdom of Songhai with its valid institutional 25 structures, since the XII century, or the Mali Empire and the people of Congo with its Monarchy, based on a cross-dynastic structure, matrilineal and patrilineal. When the first Europeans arrived – and they were Portuguese – they started emptying those social, political and religious Institutions and replacing them by “fake” Western paradigms. After the independencies of the 60´s and 70´s, the two World Powers of the Cold War period, continued with different “ghost” structures substituting the Institutional Voids left over by colonialism. During all this historical and political process, the profound sentiment of being free of political and social responsibility took root. In this framework, I will try to show that the Chinese policy in Africa is a possibility of helping the Africans to get their lost political responsibility back.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChina-Macau and globalizations, past and present
EditorsLuís Filipe Barreto, Wu Zhiliang
Place of PublicationLisboa, Macau
PublisherCentro Cultural e Científico de Macau, IP / Fundação Macau
Pages22-25
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)978-972-8586-48-5
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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