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CANCELED: Playing the China Card or Yellow Perils? China, “the Chinese”, and Race in South African Politics and Society

341 Eggers Hall

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East Asia Program and Maxwell African Scholars Union 


Playing the China Card or Yellow Perils? China, “the Chinese”, and Race in South African Politics and Society

A Talk by Yoon Jung Park, Associate Director, China Africa Research Initiative, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Executive Director, Chinese in Africa/Africans in China Research Network 

Over the past several years there have been a number of racially-tinged incidents in South Africa involving “the Chinese.” Simultaneously, the “love affair” between Chinese and South African government leaders continues. Based on nearly 20 years of research on Chinese communities in South Africa I examine these conflicting phenomena and explore the various ways in which the three main ethnic Chinese communities – Chinese South African, Taiwanese South African, and mainland Chinese migrant – respond to conflicting social and political messages. China’s global ascendance and South Africa’s increasing national-level dependence on China encourages some Chinese actors to opportunistically wield the China. Anti-Chinese sentiment, inclusive of yellow peril narratives, racist stereotypes, and hate speech, flares periodically; one such episode has spurred the formation – for the first time in South Africa – of nascent pan-Chinese solidarity.  

Dr. Yoon Jung Park is a leader in growing field of China/Africa studies. She is the author of A Matter of Honour. Being Chinese in South Africa (Jacana/Lexington Books) and is currently completing a book on Chinese migrants in Africa. Her research focuses on ethnic Chinese in southern Africa and perceptions of Chinese people by local communities, centering on migration, racial and ethnic identity, race/class/power, gender, affirmative action, and xenophobia. She is currently the Associate Director of the China-Africa Research Initiative at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS-CARI), Johns Hopkins University; adjunct professor in African Studies, Georgetown University; and Executive Director of the Chinese in Africa/Africans in China (CA/AC) Research Network. She also has an affiliation with the Sociology Department, Rhodes University. She holds degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand (PhD), the Fletcher School at Tufts University (MA), and Pitzer College (BA).

Sponsored by Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs, East Asia Program, and Maxwell African Scholars Union

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Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs
346 Eggers Hall