講題：”You have to trust them”: Countervailing Relational Tendencies among Chinese Migrants in Tanzania
時間：2020/03/04 Wed. 15:00-17:00
Derek Sheridan is an Assistant Research Fellow with the Institute of Ethnology at Academia Sinica. His research interests include China-Africa connections, migration and transnationalism, ethics, inequality, political economy, race, semiotics, knowledge production, global imaginaries, (global) China, and East Africa (Tanzania). His first project, the Mutualities of Being Chinese in Tanzania, is based on seventeen months of ethnographic fieldwork studying the everyday lives of migrant Chinese entrepreneurs in Tanzania. The book will examine how Chinese expatriates and ordinary Tanzanians negotiate a “South-South relationship” through the interpersonal ethics of social interactions. His next project concerns the circulation of martial arts culture between East Asia and Africa, and its influence on subjectivities and cultural production (incl. film) in Tanzania.
Chinese migrants in Africa often demonstrate a paradoxical orientation to the social relationships they develop with locals. Many seek relationships and friendships which are necessary for facilitating business transactions and capital accumulation, but many also avoid or minimize relationships and friendships in order to protect themselves and others from varied perceived dangers. Even migrants who pursue friendships for affective purposes may face discouragement from their associated businesses/institutions. This is despite a recognition that “people-to-people” relations are important for the China-Africa relationship. These countervailing tendencies complicate any attempt to categorize everyday Chinese-African interactions as either cooperative or conflictual, integrated or segregated, or even instrumental and affective. Instead, these tendencies suggest the need to problematize the concept of relationality as applied to both critical theories of political economy and ethnographic approaches to ordinary ethics. This question is particularly relevant in Tanzania, where the narrative of Sino-African friendship as an anti-imperial cooperation and alternative model of global relationships was perhaps most visibly conceptualized, but which has since been reimagined to describe new modes of trade and investment more similar to global capitalism. Based on seventeen months of ethnographic fieldwork among Chinese migrant entrepreneurs, managers, and employees in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania between 2013 and 2016, I examine and compare three situations involving countervailing tendencies to both establish and limit relationships. Comparing these situations demonstrates both structural imperatives to relate in order to accomplish transactions, and the limits on relationships due to the vulnerabilities of interdependency and uneven wealth. Considering these countervailing tendencies in terms of theories of capitalism as either binding or separating, I examine implications for ethical/political assumptions about the sometimes-claimed distinctive character of South-South commerce.