chapter  1
25 Pages

South China as the New Promised Land for African Migrants

This chapter situates the recent African migration to South China in the historical contexts of China's earlier encounter with Africa in its Ming Dynasty and the shifting dynamics in Sino-African relations in the Mao and post-Mao eras. It examines how the Chinese knowledge about Africans and blacks has been developed, contested, and mediated by China's encounters with Africa and the West in different historical periods. The chapter then reflects on China's role as the global manufacturing center for cheap consumer products, its recent rise as a world economic power, and its growing presence in Africa as the major reasons for the recent African migration to Guangzhou. It presents several case studies in order to show the diversity in individual motivations for migration, followed by an analysis of some key characteristics of the African diaspora communities in Guangzhou. The chapter concludes with a discussion on how the African presence in Guangzhou contributes to racial knowledge formation in China in important ways.