Anita Plummer is an Assistant Professor of African Studies at Howard University. Currently, she is the Associate Director of Research and Faculty Engagement at the Center for Women, Gender, and Global Leadership. Her research and teaching focus on African political economy, transnationalism, public diplomacy, and Sino-African relations. Before joining the faculty at Howard University, she taught International Studies at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia and she was also a Mellon post-doctoral fellow in the Cultures in Transnational Perspective Program and Visiting Assistant Professor of Global Studies and Political Science at the University of California Los Angeles. She was awarded a Carter G. Woodson Center Pre-doctoral fellowship at the University of Virginia where she researched Mandarin language in Africa.
Dr. Plummer has conducted field research in China, Kenya, South Africa, Mozambique, and Senegal. Her current book Kenya’s Engagement with China: Discourse, Power, and Agency will be published by Michigan State University Press in November 2022. Her articles on China's engagements in Africa have been published in the National Political Science Review, the Journal of Asian and African Studies, Africa, the AfricaFocus Bulletin and Foreign Policy in Focus.
In addition to her work in academia, Anita has a passion for activism, community organizing, and international solidarity. She has co-coordinated seminars to South Africa, Namibia, and Mozambique with students, teachers, and activists to dialogue on issues ranging from state-sanctioned violence/police brutality, liberation movements and unfinished social justice agendas. She has served as a coordinating committee member of the U.S. Africa Network and currently serves as the South Region Executive Committee's co-clerk of the American Friend's Service Committee and a board member of the Black women's policy think tank, at the Forefront. She was a past co-convenor of the African Studies Association's Women's Caucus and currently serves on the Steering Committee.
Book: Kenya's Engagement with China Discourse, Power, and Agency (MSU Press)
In recent decades, Kenya has witnessed profound changes in its economic, cultural, and environmental landscapes resulting from its interactions with China. University students are competing for scholarships to study in China, coastal artisanal fishers are increasingly worried about Chinese-owned trawlers depleting fish stocks, fishers on Lake Victoria are grappling with the impact of frozen tilapia from China, and unemployed youth are seeking a fair shot at working on one of Kenya’s multimillion-dollar Chinese-funded infrastructure projects. Anita Plummer’s Kenya’s Engagement with China investigates the tension between official Kenyan and Chinese state narratives and individual Kenyans’ reactions to China’s presence to provide insight into how everyday Kenyans exercise their political agency. The competing discourses Plummer uncovers in person, in the news, and online reveal how Kenyans use China to question local power structures, demand policy change, and articulate different visions for their country’s future. This critical text represents the next step in research on Sino-African relations.
“Kenya and China's Labour Relations: Infrastructural Development for Whom, by Whom?” Africa 89, no. 4 (2019): 680–95. doi:10.1017/S0001972019000858.
AbstractThe Kenyan government's long-term development strategy, Vision 2030, has emphasized infrastructural investments, which it believes will lead to sustained economic growth. The government has appealed to China to fund large-scale projects in the transport sector, and as a consequence of this, construction firms from China have emerged as significant employers in the country. While the Kenyan government contends with the ongoing burden of youth unemployment, it must also reconcile the ambiguities of China's role in Africa and its implications for the labour market. This article examines two Chinese-built infrastructure projects in Kenya and their intersection with several issues involving migrant labour and local rumours of Chinese prisoners, as well as the state's vision for industrialization and youth employment. Kenyans utilize both online and interpersonal channels of discourse to critique present-day employment practices in the transport sector, and it is argued that these counter-channels of discourse represent a particular articulation of knowledge used by Kenyans to construct meaning and interpret ambiguous situations. Through a theoretical analysis of rumour, this article illustrates how ordinary Kenyans are pooling their intellectual resources to understand Sino-Kenyan labour relations in the absence of transparency and participatory government processes in the infrastructure sector.
"China’s public relations in Kenya and the creation of a usable past." National Political Science Review, 20, no.2 (2019): 2-19.
AbstractSince 2006, bilateral trade and investment between Kenya and China has increased along with the presence of state and non-state actors from China. With China’s reemergence on the African continent comes a need to earn a positive reputation and image of the Chinese actors in Africa. Historically, China’s relationship with poor countries has played an important role in its grand strategy. The Sino-Kenyan diplomatic arena is a medium by which China and East Africa’s historical contact has been carefully crafted and conveyed to both Kenyan and Chinese publics. History has been adapted to fit the ideals and vision of Chinese diplomats in order to protect and advance their own political and economic interests in Kenya. By examining cases temporally tied to the 14th century Zheng He voyages to Kenya’s coast, Afro-Asian solidarity movements, and Cold War relations between Kenya and China, this study explores the core values that are articulated in the interest-bound and culturally-bound information distributed by Chinese diplomats in Africa.Keywords: Kenya, China, public diplomacy, soft power, Cold War, Africa
“An inspiring climate victory in Kenya: Ahead of global climate talks, activists in Kenya successfully blocked a Chinese-backed coal plant at World Heritage Site.” Foreign Policy in Focus. Washington, DC: Institute for Policy Studies, (September 2019).
Full text: https://fpif.org/an-inspiring-climate-victory-in-kenya/