Theorizing “Empire” and World Order in the Ethnography of China’s Geopolitical Edges [Part 2]
3: An Invisible Triangle: The Impact of Post-Colonialism on Mutual Perceptions Between Chinese Migrants and Zambian Hosts
Saturday, March 26, 2022
12:30pm – 2:00pm EST
Virtual Paper Presenter(s)
University of Oxford, United States
With the increasing activities of various Chinese enterprises in Zambia, the misunderstanding and conflicts between Chinese migrants and their Zambian hosts with no doubt have received overwhelming attention from both Western media and academia. While many focus directly on analyzing their mutual perceptions from the perspective of cultural-historical differences and political-economic exploitations, few have noticed how the colonial memory – of Chinese migrants as well as of Zambians – and post-colonial discourses practically mediate their interactions on the ground. In this article, based on my fieldwork with Chinese farming communities near Lusaka (the capital city of Zambia), particularly with the autobiographical data on how I, as a fieldworker who was born in China but educated in England throughout the whole postgraduate, was perceived and received by my Zambian hosts, I aim to demonstrate the influence of (post)colonial discourse on the process of everyday negotiations between Chinese and Zambians. I further argue that, although on the surface their relationship appears dyadic, to fully understand their daily interaction we must take the history and the role of ‘white-settlers’ into account, which heavily mediates the mutual understanding between Chinese migrants and their Zambian hosts. In practice, they form an invisible triangle.