Global App, Local Politics, and Chinese Migrants in Africa: A Comparative Study of Zambia and Angola

All Abstracts > Global App, Local Politics, and Chinese Migrants in Africa: A Comparative Study of Zambia and Angola

Global App, Local Politics, and Chinese Migrants in Africa: A Comparative Study of Zambia and Angola

Author | Affiliation:
Hangwei Li | SOAS, University of London

Presenting at:
3C | WeChat and Chinese diaspora


Abstract:

The expansion of China’s economic and political interests in Africa in recent years results in an increasing number of Chinese migrants settling on the continent, with an approximate number of nearly one million. However, none of the research has focused on the identity construction of Chinese migrants on WeChat groups. This study explores how WeChat groups have penetrated the everyday life of Chinese migrants in Africa, specifically in Zambia and Angola. By doing online ethnography of 40 WeChat groups and observing group members’ daily communication, network-building practices, information and news sharing, this chapter examines why WeChat groups are important platforms for us to understand the identity construction of Chinese migrants in the digital world. This chapter also highlights the local dynamic on the roles that WeChat plays in Chinese migrants’ life and further argues that a particular kind of Chinese migrant identity in Zambia and Angola has been constructed through everyday communication and discussion on WeChat groups. This particular identity makes them feel culturally and racially superior to the locals, who are often racialised and othered in the identity construction process of the Chinese migrants in their countries.


About the author

Hangwei Li

Email: Hangwei_li@soas.ac.uk

Hangwei Li is a PhD candidate and a teaching fellow at the department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of London. She was also a visiting scholar at Harvard Kennedy School and a researcher at the Global Development Policy Center. Before starting her PhD, she worked in Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia for three years as journalist and researcher. Hangwei was also a silver medal winner from United Nations Correspondents Association in 2017.

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