Africansinchina.net is the world’s most comprehensive repository about African presence in China. This archive started as a sideline project to document a wider academic research project in 2010.
Soon enough, however, africansinchina.net took a life of its own and began to be used by scholars, students and interested people all over the world as a reference point to understand the complexity, diversity and multiplicity of the impact of African presence in China. The website has long been a go-to for many journalists and media institutions.
The main mission of this archive is to provide the necessary resources to allow people to tell better stories about Africans in China. A secondary mission is to fight against negative practices that are deeply entrenched in contemporary academia (e.g. publishers’ control of knowledge production; the construction of academic narratives that do not reflect the complexities of lived realities of people on the ground; and academics’ selfishness). Indeed, the main trigger behind this now 8-years-old archive was a colleague’s reluctance to share any of his/her research contacts, details, and ideas before they were published.
In africansinchina.net we believe that knowledge dissemination via new media is of paramount importance. We are committed to share research outcomes (of multiple researchers) not only across academic networks, but to a broader audience of journalists, community stakeholders, and interested parties. The website gets an average of 5,000 views per month and is listed as a teaching and research resource on the ‘China Africa Knowledge Project’ website, part of the US-based Social Science Research Council (SSRC).
Our drive to share knowledge both through academic networks and online has also translated into a series of collaborations and consultancies for cultural, artistic, journalistic and academic projects in the Asian region. As part of our commitment to contextualisation through research, we at africansinchina.net have strategically partnered with artists and academics committed to go beyond simplistic, economistic, and racialising narratives of Africa-China relations. As such, we have taken up advisory roles on a number of projects such as:
- a documentary directed by Christiane Badgley dispelling some myths about the (im)mobilities of Africans in Southern China — the documentary, ‘Guangzhou Dream Factory’, was funded by the US National Endowment for the Humanities.
- we also worked with Daniel Traub, Wu Yongfu and Zeng Xianfang on their book-length photo essay exploring the interactions between Chinese and Africans in a neighbourhood of Guangzhou — the book, ‘Little North Road’ (2015), was published by Kehrer Verlag.
- A further commitment of ours has been the idea of ‘Asia as a Method,’ which we believe to be a critical hinge in understanding cultural globalisation in the Global South. This led us to collaborate with film director, Kim Soyoung, from the Trans-Asia Screen Culture Institute, for an ‘Inter-Asia’ documentary exploring the lives of diasporic subjects in Asia — the film, ‘Drifting City’ (2015), was funded by the Busan International Film Festival and the Korean Film Commission.
Africansinchina.net is administered by Roberto Castillo. He is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. Castillo has over 10 years of experience working around African communities in China. He has published academically on the topic in multiple platforms and has participated in numerous conferences, workshops and radio and T.V. shows.
His book titled African Transnational Mobility in China: Africans on the Move is available for sale on Amazon.
A fragment of ‘Drifting City’, the documentary about Castillo’s research:
Al Jazeera’s The Stream guest participation