Chinese Major Lindsay Mulford Wins the Mitchell Award for Academic Excellence
Posted: May 14, 2014
For the third year in a row, a major in the Department of Asian Studies has been awarded the George H. Mitchell Student Award for Academic Excellence. Chinese major Lindsay Mulford won second place for the Mitchell, which was awarded on May 8th, for her departmental Honors Thesis.
The Mitchell Award recognizes undergraduate students nominated by their professors for superior scholarly work and extraordinary contributions to their field of study. Lindsay, who is also a Finance major, wrote her Honors thesis on Chinese investment in Sub-Saharan Africa. She became interested in the topic when she traveled with a group ofbusiness students to rural Ghana to teach financial literacy. She was amazed to be greeted by a crowd of children calling out “nǐ hǎo!” (hello in Chinese). At the airport in Ghana, Lindsay noticed a Chinese restaurant with Chinese patrons conversing in Mandarin with Ghanaian businessmen. While she was only in this area for ten days, she saw further examples of Chinese influence on the daily lives of the citizens, and this experience led to a summer internship at a Hong Kong-based private equity fund that focuses on cross-border investment between China and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Lindsay’s thesis, titled Sino-African Relations & Their Impact on the West: The Emergence of a New Development Paradigm, argues that “the Chinese model of Sub Saharan engagement and investment is a demonstration of economic nationalism and creates a significant new development paradigm, contrary to the one-dimensional view of China as a neocolonialist oppressor and looter. The thesis develops around three main pillars; the first being that Africa has historically been of strategic importance to China, but for different purposes at different times. The second pillar of this thesis is that while some of China’s economic activities show little difference from those of the West, the ways China goes about achieving its goals represent a blatant challenge to the globally accepted norm of development finance and merit serious attention from the West. The final pillar of this thesis is that Western hysteria regarding Chinese investment in Sub Saharan Africa is more alarmist than realist, and its sensationalized coverage may hinder the West from making useful reexaminations of its Africa policies.”
According to Lindsay’s thesis advisor, Dr. Heather Hindman, “this topic is extremely important in contemporary scholarship on development and understandings of the rise of China as an economic power. Most Western scholars tend to see Chinese activity abroad, especially in Africa, as exploitive and neo-colonial. Yet, as Lindsay notes in her thesis, China approaches its engagement with other countries without the “White Man’s Burden” that is an undercurrent of much Western development and business in former European colonies…This project is one of the most innovative and challenging that I have seen and it is Lindsay’s unusual combination of language skills and economic knowledge that make her one of the few students able to undertake such a study.”
Please join us in congratulating Lindsay on her excellent work!