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Brokering China’s Extraversion: An Ethnographic Analysis of Transnational Arbitration

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BROKEX (Brokering China’s Extraversion: An Ethnographic Analysis of Transnational Arbitration )

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2020-06-30

Chinese global engagements are deepening across sectors and geographic regions. The objective of BROKEX is to fill specific gaps in knowledge about how China’s extraversion advances. It will do so by addressing the issue of how China’s connections are forged and the role of brokers in this process.
The so-called “rise of China”is one of the most consequential socioeconomic developments of our times. It is therefore of great importance for society to generate new knowledge about the processes beneath this development.
Three case studies will inform the analysis. They yield complementary information on the common challenge of brokering across geographic scales. The cases offer insights into the mechanisms of brokerage across distinctive sectors: * Connecting low-cost Chinese manufacturing with African markets; * High-tech born-global start-up companies; * Transnational architecture production; * Cantonese trading companies in the early 20th century.
Building on the empirical findings from these studies, the project will develop brokerage theory. Social scientific research on brokerage commonly uses the morphology of social networks as its starting point, and focuses on how actors positioned at the intersection between groups operate. BROKEX adopts an innovative approach by examining how actors strategically seek to shape networks to bridge gaps between groups. By directing theoretical attention towards relationship formation that precedes acts of brokerage, this line of inquiry advances understandings of how and why brokered connections emerge.
Jan - July 2019: Literature review and data collection by PI.
Aug-Dec 2019: Onboarding of PhDs and postdoc. Joint literature review and development of empirical case studies. Fieldwork preparations. Coursework. Technical training.
Jan– July 2020: Planned long-term data collection in China postponed/cancelled due to Covid 19 outbreak. Revision of work plans to adjust to the new circumstances. Work on more theoretically oriented papers and book manuscript on research ethics.

Publications from the project:
Haugen, H. Ø., & Lehmann, A. (2020). Adverse articulation: Third countries in China–Australia student migration during COVID-19. Dialogues in Human Geography. 10 (2), 169–173.
Zhang, Yichi (2020). From ‘Arcadia of the Literati’ to ‘Extravagant Enclosure’: The Tianjin Salt Merchant Gardens of the Qing Dynasty. Landscape Research. Online first. DOI: 10.1080/01426397.2020.1766005
Zhang, Yichi (2020). Shijiu ershi shijizhijiaode Shanghai gongongzujie chengshigongyuan gongneng bianqian yanjiu [Transforming Urban Parks in the International Settlement of Shanghai at the Turn of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries]. Zhongguo yuanlin [Chinese Landscape Architecture] 36(6), 125-9 (in Chinese). DOI: 10.19775/j.cla.2020.06.0125
The progress beyond the SoA will depend on how the team can carry out the project under the current travel restrictions. Currently, many of the trends towards extraversion are being halted temporarily or reversed due to Covid-19 combined with a changed political climate in China and internationally. Preliminary findings suggest that brokers are no less important under these circumstances, but that the resources required for successful brokerage in part are altered. Studying the role of brokerage in times of recession/contraction is expected to provide original insights into the phenomenon of brokerage.

Expected results:
- 8 journal articles
- 2 PhD theses
- One handbook in research ethics
- One monograph based on the four case studies in the project