Karen L. Harris
With the Chinese presence on the African continent being perceived and portrayed as a new global phenomenon there has been a concomitant, albeit sporadic and nuanced, emergence of an aversion to things Chinese, gradually permeating popular consciousness. In a postcolonial world these anti-Sinitic or Sino-phobic sentiments are crudely reminiscent of the late nineteenth century colonial cries of the “yellow peril”, which culminated in acts of exclusion and extreme prohibition that singled out and targeted the Chinese in the various colonies across the Atlantic and Pacific including South Africa. This article, however, proposes to trace the genesis of some of anti-Sinicism to a pre-industrial period by considering developments in colonial Southern Africa. It will show how in the early Dutch settler and British colonial periods at the Cape, when the number of Chinese present in the region was miniscule, negative feelings towards the Chinese as the “other” were already apparent and evident in the reactions to them prior to the arrival of the large numbers which came to America, Australasia and Africa from the mid-nineteenth century onwards.
A Select Literature Review of Dynastic China and Ancient Africa
Karen L. Harris
This article focuses on China’s initial encounter with the African continent from the perspective of a select literature overview. It reflects on the very earliest contacts between dynastic China and ancient Africa and shows that the current contestation in the Western media as well as literature over this more recent contact is not new. Given the dearth and disparate nature of the information on these first encounters, it does this through the lens of what has been written on the subject of the speculated first contact in a selection of secondary English-language literature. It does so by considering the prevalence of such literature in three distinct periods: prior to 1949; from 1950 to 1990; and a selection of research published thereafter. It shows that China’s encounter with Africa reaches far back into the history of the continent, but more importantly so does the volatile contestation surrounding the contemporary contact.