Wednesday, February 05, 2014
This lecture was 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
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.
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