Transnational networks of Africans and Chinese : global South imaginaries, decolonisation and the Cold War
The Chinese in Africa / Africans in China Research Network Conference Organising Committee in collaboration with the Centre for Cultural Research and Development at Lingnan University, Hong Kong; and the Institute for Emerging Markets at HKUST
CAAC2021 5th Online Mini-symposium : Africa Looking East : A Global History of Africa-China Engagement
Online Session via Zoom
This paper introduces Sun’s postdoc project which explores the exchanges of people and ideas between decolonising African countries and the People’s Republic of China during the Cold War. Following the end of the Second World War, the African continent experienced a growing ‘wind of change’ that called for an end to the global colonial order; the United States and the Soviet Union replaced European empires to become the new superpowers. China, although led by Mao Zedong and his Communist Party, claimed to be a leader of the ‘Third World’. This research will examine a range of Africans’ experiences including but not limited to politicians of initiating, deepening or negotiating relations with China at the time of global ideological contest. Through a close reading of national archives, English and Chinese newspapers, left-wing political pamphlets, and in-depth interviews, it will illustrate how transnational networks infused with a real and imagined shared colonial past, competing ideologies, and the developmental state contributed to and shaped the distinctive trajectories of China-Africa relations.
A comprehensive investigation into the history of African decolonisation and the Cold War through the lens of China-Africa social networks is of both historiographical importance and great contemporary significance. Postcolonial African states, societies, ideas and practices need to be understood within what Jeremi Suri described as the ‘historical intersections’ of an on-going decolonisation, global waves of social mobilisation, and Cold War realpolitik. This study will also contribute to the emerging but uneven literature on the social history of Africa’s Cold War. The question of how the ‘global’ is revealed and remade through the ‘local’ is as crucial as that of how global forces shape local experiences. Bringing in China’s ‘alternativeness’ in engaging with African actors, this project will challenge the conventional understanding of the divisions of East and West, North and South in the context of the decolonising Cold War.
Sun, J. Y. (2021, May 28). Transnational networks of Africans and Chinese: Global South imaginaries, decolonisation and the Cold War [Video podcast]. Retrieved from https://commons.ln.edu.hk/videos/894