Monday, April 18, 2016

[Friday Seminar Recap] Heigui: Prejudice Towards Africans and Its Implication for a Changing China

Heigui: Prejudice Towards Africans and Its Implication for a Changing China

Speaker: LIN Dan, Linessa (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Time: 1:00 – 2:30 pm, 1 Apr 2016 (Friday)
Venue: Room 401, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK

Lin Dan, our department PhD candidate, gave a seminar on “Heigui: Prejudice Towards Africans and Its Implication for a Changing China” on Apr 1. Lin had been conducting research on African migrants in China, and she carried out her fieldwork in Guangzhou, which is a multi-ethic hub for internal and international migrants.

Lin defined prejudice as a form of antipathy originates from a faulty and inflexible generalization. She focused on prejudice against sub-Saharan Africans in China, who are traders, teachers, students, and housewives. These people were attracted to the country by its genial visa policy and the renowned reputation of China as a “world factory”. Guangzhou, in particular, as a hub for cross-border trade, attracted a lot of Africans and Arab traders.

Despite the fact that some Africans had high school degree and a middle class background, they had been prejudiced in China as cheaters, criminals, law breakers, drug dealers, rapists, overstayers, and uneducated and destitute people. Many Chinese also regarded marrying Africans as a type of marry down. These negative perceptions were often created out of miscommunication and faulty imagination.

As Lin mentioned, the prejudice against Africans was partly a consequence of Chinese limited knowledge of Africa, Africans and African cultures. The negative reports on Africans disseminated by the mass media also influenced people simultaneously. In addition, Lin talked about the discourse of skin colour (that yellow skin is more superior than black skin, and black represents negative characters like laziness) which had been frequently used by the Chinese to draw boundaries among nationalities. Many Chinese also stuck to the historical impression that China gave aids to Africa, without realizing the progress that Africa had gone through.

Seminar attendees

Lin, towards the end of the seminar, discussed the uncertain future of the dynamics between Chinese and the Africans in China. China may develop into an immigrant society with foreigners residing in the country whereas Chinese going overseas. It is also possible that the increasingly strict control of Chinese government and its unclear residential policies for foreigners, in addition to the lack of knowledge of African cultures and miscommunication in the society, will lead to the loss of Africans in the country.

No comments:

Post a Comment