Interview with Miriam Driessen on Tales of Hope, Tastes of Bitterness: Chinese Road Builders in Ethiopia


Interview with Miriam Driessen by Andrea Bernardi
New Books Network
December 13, 2019

I met Dr Miriam Driessen at Oxford University where she works at the China Centre. We spoke about her wonderful new book Tales of Hope, Tastes of Bitterness: Chinese Road Builders in Ethiopia (HKUP, 2019). Through unprecedented ethnographic research among Chinese road builders in Ethiopia, Driessen finds that the hope of sharing China’s success with developing countries soon turns into bitterness, as Chinese workers perceive a lack of support and appreciation from Ethiopian laborers and local institutions. The bitterness is compounded by their position at the margins of Chinese society, suspended as they are between China and Africa and between a poor rural background and a precarious urban future. Workers’ aspirations and predicaments reflect back on a Chinese society in flux as well as China’s shifting place in the world. . . .

Listen to the interview.

Photo: Miriam Driessen, author of Tales of Hope, Tastes of Bitterness: Chinese Road Builders in Ethiopia