Sociology Prof. Delivers Lectures at Chinese University | St. Lawrence University

Sociology Prof. Delivers Lectures at Chinese University

Abye Assefa, associate professor of sociology, was the primary speaker in a lecture series held Nov. 16 to 24 at the School of International Studies at Jinan University in Guangzhou, China, titled “China’s ‘One Belt One Road Initiative: Envisioning Circulations of People, Things, Images, and Ideas in the Global South.”

The first of his three lectures was titled “The Rise of China and the Post Capitalist, Post Liberal World Order: Would the capitalist world economy and the geoculture of liberalism adapt to the future?” It begins with the view that the modern world-system is in terminal crisis. Assefa argues why the capitalist world economy can no longer pursue the endless accumulation of capital. The contradictory dynamics of increasing ration of organic composition of capital and decreasing rate of surplus value have reached a breaking point whereby the falling rate of profit has outstripped productivity. The costs of the key factors of production worldwide (labor, input, tax) are squeezing the average worldwide rate of profits. He further argues why the geoculture of liberalism can no longer maintain its uncontested hegemony – mainly liberalism is dethroned from universal standing in defining social ideologies, social movements, and social sciences. In view of these, he reveals that the “One Belt, One Road Initiative” should be seen neither as a continuation of endless accumulation nor as a duplication of liberal geoculture.

His second lecture, titled “China/Africa Relation: Beyond economic exploitation, political subordination, cultural domination,” tackles how the Africa/China relation indicates neither an unimaginable future nor a well-established past. The future/past categorical disjunction, which is nothing but the validation of the conventional, cleverly sidesteps the matter of relation. Disjunction represents China and Africa are separate planets each reduceable to their respective elemental characteristics, their relation is effectively exteriorized from them and downgraded to mere connection which is in turn entrusted to the West. In this venue, we are exploring the social-historical contexts processes that shaped and are shaped by Africa/China relation. 

His third lecture, titled “The Horn of Africa: Prototype of a world historical region,” looked at the main forms of spatial organization, the territorial state and the virtual market, which are becoming ineffective in managing the ever-increasing complication facing the world. This lecture posits that historical capitalism is in terminal crisis and approaching its ultimate undoing and the interstate system is also becoming dysfunctional. Accordingly, we are faced with one of two possible methods of explanations and actions dealing with the near-futures: either heading towards a terminus of certainty painted by vicious hegemonic epistemologies, institutions etc. or towards an innovative realignment of changes and continuities. Accordingly, brings out the salient features that make the Horn of Africa a world historical region. The latter, is neither a territorial realm represented by the multiple nation-states in Northeast Africa nor by virtual Networks of the overarching space of market exchange. The reductionist political and/or economic interpretation(s) conceals salient patterns and processes that made the Horn of Africa a world historical region, which include geographical, cultural, trade, dynamics influencing the political, religious and occupational differentiation and integration of the region.