Yijie Zou

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

William and Mary, College of

Grant number

Gr. 10252

Approve Date

October 7, 2021

Project Title

Zou, Yijie (William and Mary, College of) "Chinese Speed, African Time, and Freedom: A Study of Time, Value, and Labor among Chinese Entrepreneurs in Ghana‍ "

This project focuses on the relationships between time, value, and labor in the frontier economy under contemporary Ghana-China connections. Since the 2000s, the influx of Chinese capital and labor into Ghana opened up a new economic frontier in the country. Many Chinese entrepreneurs participate in fortune-seeking activities outside the formal political-economic framework of Ghana. In the eyes of Chinese fortune seekers, the proliferation of various modes of business in trades, extractive industry, and financial services renders Ghana a land of unregulated opportunities and economic freedom. These entrepreneurs believe that their time management marked by “Chinese speed” in entrepreneurial practices is enabled by the slow rhythms of Ghanaian sociality. They use both “Chinese speed” and “slow Africa” as the temporal references to describe the self-realization of freedom. To explore this phenomenon, this ethnographic project documents the temporal dynamics of value production in the encounter between capital with Chinese characteristics and Ghana’s economic frontier. By using anthropological works on time as an interpretative framework, the project illustrates that freedom, a vision of the good life, is engendered in interactions and transformations between time, value, and labor within contemporary capitalism.