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Inter-national/Inter-ethnic Negotiation: Business and Romantic Partnership of Africans in Guangzhou

Sat, June 25, 1:00 to 2:50pm, Shikokan (SK), Floor: 1F, 108


Since 2000, Guangzhou, a southern metropolis of China, has witnessed an impressive influx of African population, including mainly traders and students. This phenomenon has seduced a growing number of scholars in social science to study the formation of African communities, the mobility of African migrants, and the Chinese-African relations. The literature that examines the inter-ethnic relations tends to consider Africans and Chinese as two homogenous groups and overlook the internal diversity of both groups. However, it is problematic to generalize the relations between Africans and Chinese. For example, a Muslim Guinean probably may feel closer to a Muslim Hui Chinese than a Christian Congolese; and a Nigerian trader can find it easier to understand a Chinese broker than a Somali student. On the other hand, a Ghanaian trader may be more defensive to a Nigerian Igbo than to the local Cantonese people. Taking Africans as a homogenous group has long been criticized by anthropologists; Guangzhou as the major historical trading port of south China has also recognized a history of ethnic and cultural diversity long before the recent influx of immigrants. Studies of the Chinese-African relations in Guangzhou should foreground such diversity. Based on my two-year fieldwork studying African migrants in Guangzhou, this paper addresses the rich and nuanced inter-ethnic interactions through business connections and romantic relations, aiming to better understand the social-cultural adaptation of African migrants in Guangzhou. It also facilitates a further discussion on the future of transnational migrants in a globalizing China.