Cynthia Sanborn discusses a new study on Latin America and China Relations

On February 3, 2022 Professor Cynthia Sanborn, a UP professor and CECHAP research affiliate, took part in a seminar entitled “China’s relations with Latin America,” jointly organized by the Regional Coordinator for Economic and Social Research (CRIES), the Foro del Sur Foundation, and the Center for Latin American & Latin Studies at American University (CLALS).

At the event, Prof. Sanborn discussed a study by the Argentine expert Andrés Serbin, “Las Relaciones entre China y América Latina: Una Revisión de los Estudios y Tendencias Más Recientes (2010-2020)” (Relations between China and Latin America: A Review of the Most Recent Studies and Trends). As well as Serbin and Sanborn, other prominent researchers and experts on China and Latin America participated.

Prof. Sanborn highlighted the analysis of intellectual output in Latin America, noting that there is increasing emphasis on the economic relations between countries in the region and China but less attention paid to political and geopolitical ties. She also stressed the nascent networks of researchers in the region, new efforts to create and share databases on Chinese investments, and the initiatives aimed at monitoring such investments.

IIn addition, Prof. Sanborn remarked that the literature places very little emphasis on the agency of Latin America. Too often, analyses present countries in the region as passive actors vis-a-vis China—either victims or beneficiaries, as applicable. There are few studies on the efforts of our leaders, officials, or businesspersons to promote and steer these relationships. Therefore, Prof. Sanborn suggested that future research attempted to reverse this trend and expand the topics analyzed to include more empirical and ethnographic work, disaggregating the actors and processes involved. She also recommended greater collaboration in the region and in the Global South, enriching the training of new generations with knowledge of China and strengthening the various networks of researchers and academic centers specializing in China in the Global South. Finally, she encouraged the pursuit of independent and uncensored funding from governments in conflict to ensure an “academically unaligned” Latin America.

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