“Fake masks”: a reflection on the reception of African arts in China

Streaming Media


The Chinese in Africa / Africans in China Research Network Conference Organising Committee in collaboration with the Centre for Cultural Research and Development at the Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University, Hong Kong; and the Institute for Emerging Markets Studies at HKUST.

Event Title

CAAC2021 9th Online Mini-symposium : Distances and Intimacies

Document Type





9:00 p.m.


Online Session via Zoom


Chinese collectors, scholars and museum curators are showing growing interest in African artistic works in an era of a closer Sino-Africa relationship. This essay is initially sparked by Taiwanese artist Chihying’s exhibit “I’ll be back” (UCCA Beijing, 2018), in which the artist inquires the circulation and reception of African arts in China under a changing geopolitical landscape. Through an analysis of Chihying’s project and a historical examination of the long-debated issue of “authenticity” in twentieth century African art history, this presentation suggests some cautionary notes for African arts exhibitions in China, most of which remain unconscious of the problematic history and unequal power relationships behind descriptive terms such as “traditional”, “tribal”, “mysterious” and “primitive” when introducing African arts and cultures, and thus might fail to challenge the long existing culture hegemony around African arts.



Additional Information


Xi Jin (she/her/hers) received a master’s degree in African Literature and Cultures at Peking University in China in 2021. She is currently a graduate student at the Department of African Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in U.S. Her research interests include African literature, African popular culture, literary and cultural interactions between China and African nations.

Recommended Citation

Xi, J. (2022, January 21). “Fake masks”: a reflection on the reception of African arts in China [Video podcast]. Retrieved from https://commons.ln.edu.hk/videos/936/