Africans in China: some key empirical, methodological and theoretical questions

Professor Adams Bodomo, University of Vienna, will deliver the Coleman Memorial Lecture held annually in honor and memory of James S. Coleman, a pioneer in the field of African Studies and the founder of the African Studies Center.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014
4:30 PM - 6:30 PM
11360 Young Research Library
YRL Conference Center
Los Angeles, CA 90095

This lecture is the first in a series on  “Economic Change and Emerging Asia-Africa Interactions."

Professor Bodomo's Abstract:

In this talk I will briefly review contemporary, 21st Century, Africa–China relations, showing that closer official interactions between Africa and China have led to an increasing number of Africans visiting and settling in China and forming communities there. This is a phenomenon that was rare before the turn of the Century and has thus led to what is often termed Africa's newest diaspora. The key empirical, methodological, and theoretical questions addressed in the talk are: Where in China are Africans mostly found, why do they go to China, how can we quantify the African presence in China (how many are there and which countries are they mostly from), what theoretical explanations are available for accounting for the interaction between Africans and Chinese? Ultimately what is it like to be an African in China? Towards answering these questions my research team and I interacted with more than 700 Africans across six main Chinese cities including Guangzhou, Yiwu, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Macau, administering questionnaires and doing semi-structured interviews of Africans from across the entire African continent. From these surveys sociolinguistic and socio-cultural profiles are constructed to depict the everyday life of Africans in China, addressing issues such as how they communicate with their Chinese hosts in markets and on campuses, what opportunities and problems they encounter in their China sojourn and how they are received by the Chinese state. On the basis of this study I propose a cross-cultural bridge theory of migrant-indigene relations, arguing that Africans in China act as socio-political, socio-economic, and socio-cultural bridges linking Africa to China. This approach to the analysis of diasporan communities has implications for cross-linguistic and cross-cultural studies in an era of globalization.

Professor Bodomo's Bio:

Adams Bodomo, a native of Ghana, is Professor of African Studies (Chair of African Languages and Literatures) at the University of Vienna, Austria. He founded and directed the African Studies programme at the University of Hong Kong, where he served as Associate Professor of Linguistics and African Studies for 16 years between 1997 and 2013. Prior to that, he served as Lecturer at Stanford University in the US. He obtained his PhD from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway, after Bachelors and Masters Degrees at the University of Ghana. Professor Bodomo is the author of 10 books, including the first book on Africans in China, and about 100 articles in Linguistics and in African and Asian Studies journals.

Coleman Memorial Lecture:

The Coleman Memorial Lecture is given in honor and memory of Professor James S. Coleman, the founder of the UCLA African Studies Center.  A pioneer in the field of African Studies, Coleman’s capacity for work was extraordinary, and he was among the first American scholars to recognize, understand, and give voice to the significance of the African perspective.  His scholarly contributions were immense and focused largely on nationalism, education, and development theory, but he also wrote on academic freedom and political economy; his works have endured.  Intelligent, warm, and inventive are often words used to describe Coleman.

In 1989, the Center was renamed to honor its founder James S. Coleman, whose pioneering scholarship marks him as one of the architects of African Studies in the United States.

Cost : Free and open to the public; pay by space and all-day parking is available in lot 3 for $12.

James S. Coleman African Studies Center310-825-3686

Sponsor(s): African Studies Center, Asia Pacific Center, Mellon Postdoctoral Program in the Humanities “Cultures in Transnational Perspective"

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