From field work to academic field
This chapter provides personal reflections on how the author came to first study Tanzania’s relations with China, and how China–Africa academic studies have evolved since then. What had been a very small, peripheral and solitary field comprised of a handful of scholars mainly interested in China and IR has become a multi-disciplinary mainstream academic field of study. Facing the impossibility of undertaking research in China in the 1960s, east Africa was identified as an arena where it would be possible to conduct field research about Chinese foreign policy. While undertaking empirical research in to the case of Tanzania’s relations with China, the author was also attempting to construct a conceptual framework to examine and explain China’s foreign policy and behaviour in an effort to move beyond monocausal explanations. The body of innovative scholarship about China and Africa relations continues to develop and expand; it holds the promise of contributing to the creation of a new and separate field of study.