Science, technology, and the politics of knowledge: The case of China’s agricultural technology demonstration centers in Africa
This paper in the World Development Journal, studies the role of Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre (ATDC) in Africa. The ATDC has been considered as an alternative model to pursue sustainability of Chinese foreign aid to African countries. This paper attempts to examine the ATDC scheme, particularly focus on the knowledge construction at macro level of design and the knowledge encounter at micro level of daily operation based on the case studies in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. Our study finds multiple facets of the ATDC, i.e., the cleavage between the macro-level of policy design and micro level of implementation realities; the interplay between knowledge and politics, and appearance of possible alternative development pathways stimulated by ATDCs in African countries. The paper argues that even though the ATDC is a technology-centered scheme, it is inevitably a social and political process in implementation, resulting in the discontinuity of the policy results. With a whole set of ideas and imaginaries being delivered, frustrated, and negotiated, the ATDC creates a very different vision to the established CG system, or the western bilateral aid programs. As an embodiment of a “traveling technocratic rationality”, the ATDCs are important sites for negotiations over knowledge and politics, and the meanings of aid, investment, and development, as part of the wider playing out of China’s engagement in Africa.