The article explores how the politics of South-South cooperation, namely between Africa and China, play out at the level of cultural subjectivity, implicating modes of affect and identities that are not captured by the more commonly employed binary framework of “friend” or “enemy.” It asks whether it is possible for the Africans and Chinese to imagine each other without the West as its geocultural dominance diminishes; and if so, how is this being made possible? As modes of transmitting and learning, cultural initiatives under the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and “Belt and Road Initiative” provide a window into both people’s understandings of one another. While necessary for building people-to-people relations, the article, relying on an analysis of data collected from Chinese websites, argues that the state-sponsored cultural exchanges largely reify existing racialized ideas of “the African” and Orientalist views of “the Chinese.” However, building on Simbao’s (2019) point about artists’ works that “push back” against dominant discourse, the article further argues and demonstrates through the journey and works of three artists (Chinese, Kenyan, and Ghanaian) that radical imaginaries reflecting the inner states of acting subjects of China-Africa engagements are available in local cultural productions, uncompromising in communicating shared beliefs and posing challenges to power relations on multiple scales.
The article aims to give local texture to people’s, specifically Chinese, mobilities in a South African context. Through a retelling of a grandmother’s stories to her granddaughter, we argue that they offer a vision of the world that Black and Chinese South Africans inhabited during apartheid – they disrupted the world built by the all-white government. During the apartheid period, people were forced to see the world in black and white terms, not to mention powerful and powerless. It is this reality of the past that an ancestor’s oral accounts about how her people met and interacted with people from other shores, who had different stories than hers, are important. In this article, one of the authors recalls and further reimagines these stories about people who came from afar to make their own living in South Africa, cross paths with the locals, and leave their own marks. The article also highlights the significance of “Mo-China,” the Chinese fafi gambling game in supplementing Black and Chinese South African urban livelihoods during apartheid. The article concludes by pointing out that these stories, crossing and informing worlds, are prohibited knowledge that requires new attention which debates on the Chinese presence in African contexts have neglected thus far.
This paper examines the risk perception of Filipino nurses who worked in Libya during the height of post-2011 crisis. The narratives reveal that Filipino nurses took advantage of the massive hiring campaign organized by Libya’s Ministry of Health in 2012, hoping that their migration experiences would result in economic and social rewards as they established their careers in the healthcare industry. After 2 years of adjustment to the conflict-ridden environment, they found themselves situated in another episode of civil war, once again defying the Philippine government’s mandatory repatriation program. Guided by Carretero’s (Risk-taking in unauthorised migration, 2008) thesis, we observed the mechanism of defiance that entails risk-taking as the political crisis loomed. Filipino nurses, especially those who initially refused to leave Libya, embraced an “illusion of control” that eventually reinforced an “unrealistic optimism.” These risk-minimizing strategies have successfully undermined the protective powers of the state. The paper argues that Filipino migrants in crisis zones like Libya undertake risk calculation and reduction, albeit with a tendency to commit risk denial and a false sense of empowerment and exceptionality. In the end, however, it is emphasized that these mechanisms have limitations, depending on the experiences, timing, and risk interpretation of the migrants.