When I started looking at the Chungking Mansions [in Hong Kong] and later on in Guangzhou, the questions I was asking myself were: In what ways are these people in China different or similar to the African diasporas for example in Europe and America. In what ways were they similar? In what ways does this community inform us about new diasporas? For example, I lived in Europe for many years before coming here, and the majority of African communities were refugees, people who fled, and they all depended on the state for their livelihood, for social security and welfare and these kinds of things. That is the trend even now, even now in London and elsewhere. But I found that these guys were different: they are traders, so they are self-employed, they don’t depend on the state. And they even employ people, they even employ young Chinese as their interpreters. That is one striking difference.
Posted by Steve S at 4:56 PM
Evan Osnos, over at his New Yorker blog, has a must-read interview with one Professor Adams Bodomo, who has been studying African immigrant communities in China. Go read the whole thing; I'll excerpt only a small quote from Bodomo: