Race and Racism in Africa-China Relations
Race and Racism in Africa-China Relations is a research project that aims to understand the historical (dis)connections between global race studies and novel, and ongoing, processes of racialisation in the Afro-Chinese encounter through a focus on media representation. This project is primarily a media analysis project that takes (re)production of racialised imaginaries in Africa-China relations (such as those represented through news, ads, film, documentaries, social media, cartoons, and artistic practice) as its empirical focus. This research project consists of three phases. Firstly, the project will survey one decade of online and archival records (in English, Swahili and Chinese, from China, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia) to map out the current status of media representation about African presence in China and Chinese presence in Africa. The time frame coincides with the intensification of global media representations about the Afro-Chinese encounter. Secondly, the project will critically examine ways in which blackness/Africanness and Chineseness have been constructed and presented as racial categories (through imagery and narratives) in media from China and East African countries. Thirdly, it will link findings to historical and contemporary geopolitical conjunctures, and to theoretical understandings and debates around ‘race’, racism, racialisation, and cultural production.
Race and Racism in Africa-China Relations understands the notion of ‘race’ as a shifting signifier. This means that –as a modern social construction– the meanings associated with ‘race’ as a category shift historically and contextually throughout modernity. In other words, ‘race’ is understood and experienced differently according to the context. ‘Race’, and associated concepts like racialisation and racism, have mostly been theorised in Western contexts, and/or from ‘paradigmatic’ centres of knowledge production in the Global North. While situated within the larger context of race theory and the (Western dominated) global systems that have produced racialised identities and practices, Race and Racism in Africa- China Relations will offer evidence, insights and tools to think about ‘race’ and racism in ways that are not pre-scripted by the Western experiences.