Senior Research Associate and Lecturer, Department of Global Development
Ding Fei is a senior research associate and lecturer in the Department of Global Development at Cornell University. As a development and economic geographer, Fei has areas of expertise in political economy of development, global production networks, capital-labor relations, South-South migration, and China-Africa relations. Her research elucidates the structures, processes, agencies, and relationalities that shape Chinese overseas investment, and assesses Chinese impacts on achieving the three Sustainable Development Goals of promoting productive employment and decent work, facilitating inclusive industrialization, and reducing inequality in Africa. She received her doctoral and master’s degrees from the Department of Geography, Environment and Society at the University of Minnesota.
Fei serves as a board member and the secretary of China Geography Specialty Group at the American Association of Geographers. Starting in December 2022, Fei will join the executive board of the Chinese-in-Africa/Africans-in-China Research Network.
- “In Ethiopia, Chinese Companies are Adopting Different Ways to Managing Employees.” The Monkey Cage by the Washington Post.
- “Harnessing Chinese Telecommunications Investments to Ethiopia's Benefit.” Belt and Road Podcast. January.
- “Debunking Myths About Chinese Labor in Africa.” The China in Africa Podcast. April.
- Ph.D., Geography, University of Minnesota
- M.A., Geography, University of Minnesota
- B.S. Resource Science and B.A. English, Bejing Normal University
Political Economy of Development
Awards & Honors
- 2019, Finalist, J. Warren Nystrom Award, American Association of Geographers
- 2018, Runner-up, Graduate Student Paper Award, Asian Geography Specialty Group, American Association of Geographers
- 2016, Graduate Student Paper Award, Urban Geography Specialty Group, American Association of Geographers
- 2016, Gary Gaile Travel Award, Development Geographies Specialty Group, American Association of Geographers
- 2015, Outstanding Service Award, Minnesota Population Center
- 2015, Best Student Paper Award, China Geography Specialty Group, American Association of Geographers
Areas of Expertise
- International Development
- Economic Globalization
- Global Production Networks
- Capital-Labor Relations
- South-South Migration
- China-Africa Cooperation
Ding Fei’s research program focuses on three levels of analysis. At the national and regional level, she analyzes the uneven geographies of Chinese investment to drive socio-economic transformations and industrial capacity building in Africa. At local and firm level, her work examines the process of developing transnational business, management, and labor regime by different types of Chinese capital. At community and individual level, she explores the ways that Chinese investments shape and are mediated by subjectivity, agency, and mobility of Chinese and African employees.
Select Grants and Fellowships
- 2020, Early Career Fellowship in China Studies, Henry Luce Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies
- 2020, Institute for Social Science Research Grant, Arizona State University
- 2018, Research/Travel Funds, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota, also in 2014-2017
- 2017, Conference Travel Funds, Beijing Forum
- 2016, Summer Fellowship, China-Africa Research Initiative, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University
- 2016, Summer Funding, Department of Geography, Environment and Society, University of Minnesota
- 2016, Thesis Research Travel Grant, Graduate School, University of Minnesota
- 2016, International Travel Grant, Interdisciplinary Perspectives on International Development, University of Minnesota
- Fei, D. (2022). Chinese in Africa: Expatriation Regime and Lived Experience. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. Published online.
- Fei, D. (2022). Assembling Chinese Health Engagement in Africa: Structures, Strategies, and Emerging Patterns. Third World Quarterly. Published online.
- Fei, D, Liao, C. & Yang, H. (2021). Student Returnees from China’s COVID-19 Epicenter: Spatio-Temporal Movement and Impact of Tracing. Social Science and Medicine 287(September):114371.
- Fei, D. (2021). Networked Internationalization: Chinese Companies in Ethiopia’s Infrastructure Construction Sector. Professional Geographer, 73(2), 322–332.
- Fei, D. (2021). Chinese Telecommunications Companies in Ethiopia: The Influences of Host Government Intervention and Inter-firm Competition. The China Quarterly, 245, 186–207.
- Fei, D. 2020. Employee Management Strategies of Chinese Telecommunication Companies in Ethiopia: Half-Way Localization and Internationalization. Journal of Contemporary China. Published online.
- Fei, D. (2020). Variegated work regimes of Chinese investment in Ethiopia. World Development, 135(105049), 1–12.
- Fei, D. (2020). The Compound Labor Regime of Chinese Construction Projects in Ethiopia. Geoforum, 17, 13–23.
- Fei, D. (2020). Negotiating Chineseness: Incorporating critical reflection into workplace research on Chinese investment in Ethiopia. Area, 52(3), 1–8.
- Fei, D., & Liao, C. (2019). Chinese Eastern Industrial Zone in Ethiopia: unpacking the enclave. Third World Quarterly, 41(4), 623–644.
- Fei, D., Samatar, A., & Liao, C. (2018). Chinese-African Encounters in High-Tech Sectors: Comparative Investigation of Chinese Workplace Regimes in Ethiopia. Development Policy Review, 36(1), O455–O475.
- Fei, D. (2017). Worlding Developmentalism: China’s Economic Zones Within and Beyond its Border. Journal of International Development, 29(6), 825–850.
- Fei, D. (2018). Work, Employment, and Training through Africa-China Cooperation Zones : Evidence from the Eastern Industrial Zone in Ethiopia. Working Paper No. 2018/19. China Africa Research Initiative, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Washington, DC.
Other Publications (e.g. book chapters, book reviews and working papers)
- Lim, G., & Fei, D. (2022). China and Taiwan in Africa: Foreign Direct Investment, Institutions, and Regional Development. in Africa-China-Taiwan Relations 1949-2020, edited by S. Abidde. Rowman & Littlefield.
- Fei, D. (2020). China in Ethiopia: The Long-Term Perspective by Aaron Tesfaye Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2020 195 Pp. $31.95 ISBN 978-1-43847835-7. The China Quarterly 224:1186–87. doi: 10.1017/S0305741020001137.
- Fei, D. (2018). Work, Employment, and Training through Africa-China Cooperation Zones: Evidence from the Eastern Industrial Zone in Ethiopia. Working Paper No. 2018/19. China Africa Research Initiative, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://www.sais-cari.org/publications
- Liao, C., & Fei, D. (2017). Pastoral Resilience in East Africa and Central Asia. Pp. 198–210 in Routledge Handbook of International Resilience, edited by C. J. Chandler, D.
- Fei, D. (2016). Territories of Poverty: Rethinking North and South by Ananya Roy and Emma Shaw Crane. Southeastern Geographer 56(3):371–73.
Teaching has been a critical and rewarding component of Ding Fei’s professional training and academic career. Formerly as a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Arizona State University (ASU), Fei regularly taught courses including Geography of China, Cartography and Georepresentation, Geographic Research Methods, and Statistics for Geography and Planning. She also received Certificate in Effective Teaching from the Association of College and University Educators.
Fei believes that effective teaching should expose students to perspectives and skills that are relevant and meaningful to their intellectual and professional development. Her goal is to help students become proactive, independent, critical, and lifelong learners who can develop their own distinctive perspectives and communicate their opinions clearly to others. To achieve this goal, Fei brings a problem-oriented, student-centered, and research-informed experiential learning pedagogy to her classes. She taps into diverse teaching tools and multimedia delivery modes to build connections between real-life experiences and abstract concepts or sophisticated methods, and to introduce hands-on activities for students to understand and solve emerging local, regional, and global development challenges.
- Presenter. Chinese-style Economic Zones, Policy Mobilities, and the Implications for Urbanizing Futures. Annual Meeting of Development Studies Association, July 10-12, 2022
- Panelist. Summer Institute in Economic Geography, Montreal, Canada, June 20-24, 2022
- Presenter. Chinese Standards from the Ground Up. Africa-China Workshop. University of Cambridge. June 23-25, 2022
- Seminar Speaker. Chinese Expatriates in Africa. Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. April 20, 2022
- Workshop Speaker. Field Methods and Researcher Reflexivity. Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. March 22, 2022
- Workshop Speaker. Researching Mobilities under the Belt and Road Initiative. Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. March 20, 2022
- Presenter. Going Global: Entrepreneurship Across Sites and Scales. Annual Meeting of American Association of Geographers. February 25-28, 2022
- Panelist. Rethinking the Belt and Road Initiative. Africa-China Working Group. Center for African Studies, University of Florida. October 7, 2021
- Panelist. Belt and Road in Global Perspective Conference, Toronto, CA, June 14-15, 2021
- Panelist. African agency in knowledge and technology transfer. International Symposium: Re-imagining African Agency in China-Africa Relations. Lingnan University, Hong Kong, May 13-14, 2021
- Presenter. Reinserting Labor Agency in Africa-China Relations. Annual Meeting of African Studies Association, November 16-20, 2021
- Symposium Speaker. Spatial-Temporal Displacements and (Im)Mobility of Chinese Expatriates in Africa. Mini Online Symposium of Chinese in Africa/Africans in China Network. Feburary 25, 2021
Ithaca, NY 14853
df423 [at] cornell.edu
Ding in the news
- Polson Institute for Global Development
- Department of Global Development
- Global Development
- Department of Global Development
- Global Development