Reflections on the role of race in China–Africa relations
This chapter examines how race has been treated in the existing body of work on China and Africa relations. It seeks to disrupt restrictive binary constructions and ahistorical conceptions of race that appear in many of the available China–Africa studies. It charts a way forward for a deeper excavation of race in China and Africa relations that takes into account an often unconscious adoption of Western frames. It seeks to shift the focus to foreground China’s new role in the racial capitalist world-economy, while simultaneously taking cognizance of Chinese exceptionalism. Race and racism, as with all analytical categories, are ultimately socially constructed; part of the problem is that a focus on Chinese and African bodies and even (nation)states sometimes obscures our view of larger global structures and processes of power which have been, are, and continue to be racialised and racializing. Race making, othering, and hierarchies of power are entwined and ongoing processes require rigorous analysis that disrupt and displace simplistic models, binary thinking, and application of existing theories based on experiences in the global north.