Africans in Guangzhou Research

Academic (Im)mobility: Ecology of Ethnographic Research and Knowledge Production on Africans in China

By Kudus Adebayo

Abstract: Since the emergence of China in the geopolitical and economic spaces of Africa, academics have followed Chinese and African people moving in both directions and conducted on-the-ground, cross-border ethnographies. However, academics are not equally mobile. This autoethnography analyses the intersections of ethnography, mobility and knowledge production on ‘Africans in China’ through a critical exploration of the contextual issues shaping the unequal participation of Africa-based researchers in the study of Africa(ns) in a non- African setting. Based on my experiences before, during and after migration to Guangzhou city, I demonstrate that ‘being there,’ fetishised as ideal-type anthropology, conceals privilege and racial and power dynamics that constrain the practice of cross-border ethnography in the global South.

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