April 11th will mark the one-year anniversary of what’s become known as “the Guangzhou Incident” when dozens, possibly hundreds of African residents in the southern Chinese city were evicted from their homes and hotels. Chinese officials denied that Black and African residents were singled out as part of a broader crackdown to enforce stringent COVID-19 health regulations, but much of the rest of the world didn’t buy it after they saw countless social videos depicting blatant maltreatment.
Although many people today associate Guangzhou with what happened last April, the fact is that the African diaspora community there had been under intense pressure for years. Tougher Chinese immigration laws, higher livings costs, and new zoning ordinances all made life increasingly difficult for African transnational migrants — especially those whose immigration status wasn’t always fully legal. And this was BEFORE the pandemic.
Roberto Castillo, an assistant professor at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, has been closely following those changes in southern China’s African diaspora communities for more than a decade. He’s just come out with a new book on the subject and joins Eric & Cobus to discuss how Asia’s largest overseas African population is undergoing profound change.
- Introduction: ‘African Transnational Mobility in China: Africans on the Move’ by Roberto Castillo
- Amazon: African Transnational Mobility in China: Africans on the Move by Roberto Castillo
- African Arguments: African migration to China may never be the same again by Roberto Castillo
Roberto Castillo is an Assistant Professor in Cultural Studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. He is from Mexico but has been living, working, and researching in the Asian region since 2006. Besides cultural studies, his training is in journalism, international relations, political science, and history. In 2009, when he was working as an editor for a branch of Xinhua News Agency in Beijing, he became interested in the increasing presence of foreigners in China and their transnational connections. Since 2010, he has been carrying out cultural research on Africans in Guangzhou. He also administers the website Africans in China.
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