"No Place We Won't Go": Chinese Traders in Kampala, Uganda

Authors: Devon Hsiao*, University of Texas - Austin
Topics: Africa, China
Keywords: China-Africa, Trade, Diaspora
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: 8228, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


China’s increased engagement with Africa has been met with two main reactions. On one side, criticism and alarm about Chinese exploitation and neo-colonialism. On the other hand, rhetoric of mutual cooperation and benefit. What both sides have in common is the overwhelming focus on top-down, institutional-level and state-based interactions. In contrast, my work draws on feminist geography theories of the ‘global intimate’ to challenge current dominant narratives on China-Africa relations. This paper examines the ‘intimate’ China-Africa through a case study of a community of Chinese traders based in Kampala, Uganda, drawing on interviews, participant observation, and retail mapping methods to construct a picture of the lives of these Chinese. By bringing these underrepresented narratives to light, and discussing them in relation to current global trends, this work seeks to complicate the binary conceptualization of China-Africa relations as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and explore how the intimate and global engage with each other.

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