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African Musicians in Search of the ‘Chinese Dream’: beyond the narratives of trade and ‘immigration’

African Musicians in Search of the ‘Chinese Dream’: beyond the narratives of trade and ‘immigration’

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Published by AfricaChina
Over the last decade, the number of Africans arriving in Guangzhou (and surrounding cities) has seen no parallel in the history of the region. As African presence in the city remains a significant foreign presence, the number of Africans involved in different segments of the cultural scene has gradually increased. Drawing from 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork amongst African musicians in the city, this talk is an exploration of their trajectories, entanglements, hopes and possibilities as they attempt to become celebrities both in China and beyond. In an attempt to shift the focus away from the economic discourses that underwrite most accounts of 'Africans in China', in this talk I argue that in order to have a more comprehensive understanding of African presence in the region, it is crucial that we look into personal aspirations - and a little bit beyond the pervasive trading and immigration narratives.
Over the last decade, the number of Africans arriving in Guangzhou (and surrounding cities) has seen no parallel in the history of the region. As African presence in the city remains a significant foreign presence, the number of Africans involved in different segments of the cultural scene has gradually increased. Drawing from 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork amongst African musicians in the city, this talk is an exploration of their trajectories, entanglements, hopes and possibilities as they attempt to become celebrities both in China and beyond. In an attempt to shift the focus away from the economic discourses that underwrite most accounts of 'Africans in China', in this talk I argue that in order to have a more comprehensive understanding of African presence in the region, it is crucial that we look into personal aspirations - and a little bit beyond the pervasive trading and immigration narratives.

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Published by: AfricaChina on Jul 18, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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08/10/2014

 
Hrfgt pfpcr W.6.2 @uoy 2>68 / Rlbcrtl Kfstjool
Hrfgt lg f tfoa djvce ft tmc Fsjf Frt Frkmjvc je MA, pocfsc hl elt qultc lr kjtc
"
 Fgrjkfe iusjkjfes je scfrkm lg tmc ”Kmjecsc Hrcfi‚0 bcyleh tmc efrrftjvcs lg trfhc feh ”jiijdrftjle‚
Rlbcrtl KF[XJOOL
Lvcr tmc ofst hckfhc, tmc euibcr lg Fgrjkfes frrjvjed je Dufedzmlu (feh surrluehjed kjtjcs) mfs scce el pfrfooco je tmc mjstlry lg tmc rcdjle. Fs Fgrjkfe prcscekc je tmc kjty rcifjes f sjdejgjkfet glrcjde prcscekc, tmc euibcr lg Fgrjkfes jevlovch je hjggcrcet scdicets lg tmc kuoturfo skcec mfs drfhufooy jekrcfsch. Hrfwjed grli 62 iletms lg ctmeldrfpmjk gjcohwlra filedst Fgrjkfe iusjkjfes je tmc kjty, tmjs tfoa js fe cxpolrftjle lg tmcjr trf`cktlrjcs, cetfedocicets, mlpcs feh plssjbjojtjcs fs tmcy fttcipt tl bcklic kcocbrjtjcs bltm je Kmjef feh bcyleh. Je fe fttcipt tl smjgt tmc glkus fwfy grli tmc cklelijk hjsklurscs tmft uehcrwrjtc ilst fkkluets lg 'Fgrjkfes je Kmjef', je tmjs tfoa J frduc tmft je lrhcr tl mfvc f ilrc kliprcmcesjvc uehcrstfehjed lg Fgrjkfe prcscekc je tmc rcdjle, jt js krukjfo tmft wc olla jetl pcrslefo fspjrftjles - feh f ojttoc bjt bcyleh tmc pcrvfsjvc trfhjed feh jiijdrftjle efrrftjvcs.
^crslefo fspjrftjles0 bcyleh tmc efrrftjvc lg trfhc
Lvcr tmc ofst gjgtcce ycfrs, fs f klescqucekc lg tmc sustfjech cklelijk cedfdcicets bctwcce Fgrjkfe kluetrjcs feh tmc ^RK,
6
 foled wjtm Kmjef‚s plst-TXL drfhufo rcofxftjle lg plojkjcs le glrcjde ilbjojty (cetry feh mlusjed),
2
 kluetocss Fgrjkfes mfvc frrjvch tl tmc slutmcre ictrlplojs lg Dufedzmlu je tmc scfrkm glr iftcrjfo feh jiiftcrjfo wcoobcjed.
;
 Tmjoc trfhjed js krukjfo je tmc ojvcs lg ifey Fgrjkfes je tmc kjty, feh f euibcr lg rcscfrkmcrs mfvc glkusch le trfhc rcoftch fktjvjtjcs (scc Iuoocr & Rfjecr, 2>6;1 Bcrtlekcol & Brchcolup, 2>>41 Brchcolup, 2>621 Iftmcws & Zfed, 2>621 Mfudce, 2>661 Oc Bfjo, 2>>:1 Oj, Oyles, & Brlwe, 2>62), J kletceh tmft tmc sloc feh pcrvfsjvc glkus le trfhc rcjeglrkcs eltjles lg Fgrjkfes je tmc kjty fs icrcoy prlgjt sccajed sub`ckts le tmc lutolla glr ”klipfrftjvc fhvfetfdcs‚ (Bcrtlekcool & Brchcolup, 2>>40 6>6). Je tmc prcvfjojed cklelijstjk efrrftjvcs, Fgrjkfes je Dufedzmlu frc uejvcrsfojsch fs f pfrtjkuofr ajeh lg sub`ckt lg eclojbcrfojsi0 ilbjoc (hjfsplrjk) trfhcrs/cxplrtcrs tmft klic tl Kmjef tl buy tmjeds, cxplrt (smjp lr kfrry) tmci bfka tl  Fgrjkf, feh tmce prlgjt bcglrc rcturejed tl Kmjef ‛ pcrgckt klds je tmc wmcco lg ”[lutm-tl-[lutm‚ cklelijk dolbfojsftjle/hcvcolpicet. Tmjoc J je el wfy jetceh tl hcey tmc jiplrtfekc lg trfhc glr ilst Fgrjkfes je tmc kjty (feh J hl bcojcvc tmft strukturfo glrkcs je tmc stuhy lg trfeseftjlefojty feh ilbjojty frlueh tmjs kfsc stuhy rcqujrc fttcetjle), je tmjs pfpcr J frduc tmft tmc lvcrfrkmjed trfhjed efrrftjvc (feh jts cipmfsjs le strukturc) mfs ocgt ojttoc (lr el) spfkc glr jssucs lg fdceky, ciltjle feh fspjrftjle tl cetcr tmc hcbftc. Je ltmcr wlrhs, tmc cxpofeftjles prlvjhch by cxtfet rcscfrkm mfvc gfjoch tl jetcrrldftc tmc ”elt-sl-strukturfo‚ rftjlefocs bcmjeh trfhc0 skfet fttcetjle mfs bcce djvce tl tmc pcrslefo hrjvcs, hcsjrcs, feh pfssjles tmft lgtce ocfh jehjvjhufos tl cedfdc jetl trfeseftjlefo ilvcicet/fktjvjtjcs. Ilrclvcr, J frduc tmft aelwochdc prlhuktjle jeglrich by cklelijstjk ocescs mfs prckouhch ltmcr typcs lg jifdjejeds feh klekcptufojsftjles fblut Fgrjkfe prcscekc je tmc kjty. Jt js iy kletcetjle tmce tmft ecw efrrftjvcs (lr ilrc hjvcrsc lecs) frc ecchch ‛ efrrftjvcs tmft hl elt rcehcr jehjvjhufos feh tmcjr stlrjcs goft, lr klegusc tmcjr pfssjles, hcsjrcs feh fspjrftjles wjtm tmcjr trfhjed strftcdjcs feh rftjlefo kfokuoftjles. Mcekc, je fe fttcipt tl smjgt tmc glkus fwfy grli tmc cklelijk hjsklurscs tmft uehcrwrjtc ilst ojtcrfturc le Fgrjkfe prcscekc je Kmjef, je tmjs
 
Hrfgt pfpcr W.6.2 @uoy 2>68 / Rlbcrtl Kfstjool
Hrfgt lg f tfoa djvce ft tmc Fsjf Frt Frkmjvc je MA, pocfsc hl elt qultc lr kjtc
#
pfpcr J cxpolrc tmc wjhcoy lvcrollach frcf lg pcrslefo fspjrftjles. J hl tmjs grli fe ctmeldrfpmjk pcrspcktjvc feh by pofkjed fe cipmfsjs le kcrtfje trfeseftjlefo strftcdjcs tmft jehjvjhufos hcsjde je lrhcr tl guogjo tmcjr fspjrftjles.  Tmjoc fspjrftjles frc lgtce jibrjkftch wjtm cklelijcs feh cklelijk hjsklurscs, tmcy frc elt eckcssfrjoy cklelijk kfokuoftjles1 feh, jt wluoh bc ijsocfhjed lr uegfjr tl grfic tmci fs sukm. Mfvjed sfjh tmjs, iy fefoysjs lg fspjrftjles hlcs elt jdelrc lr hjsrcdfrh tmc jiplrtfekc lg cklelijks. Jehcch, tmc stlry prcscetch je tmjs pfpcr smlws mlw kcrtfje cklelijk glrkcs trfvcrsc, frtjkuoftc, guco feh klestrfje fspjrftjles. Hrfwjed grli iy ycfr-oled sustfjech ctmeldrfpmjk gjcohwlra filedst Fgrjkfe iusjkjfes je Dufedzmlu, je tmcsc pfdcs J gloolw tmc stlry lg [ay 
8
, f wcoo-aelwe Ejdcrjfe Jdbl sjedcr, cvcet lrdfejscr, cetrcprcecur, busjecssife feh gftmcr, wml mfs ojvch je tmc kjty glr lvcr cjdmt ycfrs fktjvcoy pursujed mjs hrcfi lg ”brcfajed tmrludm‚ jetl tmc Kmjecsc iusjk ifract. Bfsch le mjs ojgc stlry, J jooustrftc mlw iusjk feh fspjrftjles frc elt eckcssfrjoy fekjoofry tl trfhc, feh/lr scklehfry tl cklelijk klesjhcrftjles (fs cxtfet efrrftjvcs  wluoh bc jekojech tl suddcst). Jehcch, J kletceh tmft glr slic Fgrjkfes je Dufedzmlu trfhc js rcdfrhch (feh utjojsch) elt fs fe ceh je jtscog, but fs f tllo tl fkmjcvc ltmcr (ilrc jiplrtfet) ijh feh oled-tcri lb`cktjvcs.
3
  Fspjrftjles frc krukjfo frcefs wmcrc tmc rftjlefocs bcmjeh trfeseftjlefo ilvcicet frc dcstftch, hcvcolpch, rcprlhukch feh trfesijttch. J klekcptufojsc fspjrftjles fs hrjvcrs (j.c. mlpcs feh/lr hcsjrcs) kfudmt bctwcce tmc burhces lg cvcryhfy ojgc, feh tmc jifdjeftjles wc mfvc fblut plssjboc guturcs. Lgtce, fs Bueecoo & Dlm (2>620 6) suddcst, tmcsc hrjvcrs djvc tciplrfo hjrcktjle tl pfssjles feh cecrdjcs feh mfvc tmc plwcr tl ilvc feh iltjvftc pclpoc. ^ut feltmcr wfy, fspjrftjles frc scesc-ifajed (efrrftjvc) tllos tmft djvc icfejed feh klursc tl lur `lurecys. Jehcch, fs fetmrlploldjst  Fr`ue Fppfhurfj (2>>8) suddcsts, fspjrftjles kfe bc tmludmt lg fs ”efvjdftjlefo hcvjkcs‚ tmft mcop kcrtfje jehjvjhufos tl wlra tmrludm f scrjcs lg lbstfkocs tl fkmjcvc tmcjr dlfos lr rcfkm glr tmcjr hrcfis. Glr ifey jehjvjhufos, fspjrftjles guektjle fs krjtjkfo trfesglriftjvc hrjvcs tmft elt leoy mfvc tmc pltcetjfo tl mcop tmci gjeh tmc eckcssfry rcslurkcs tl kletcst feh fotcr tmcjr ojvjed klehjtjles, fs Fppfhurfj (2>>80 3:) cxpofjes, but tmft uevcjo plssjbjojtjcs glr ecw wfys lg bcjed feh bcklijed. Je mjs cssfy le tmc ”kfpfkjty tl fspjrc‚ fs f ”kuoturfo kfpfkjty‚ (je tmc kletcxt lg Jehjfe plvcrty), Fppfhurfj (2>>8) suddcsts tmft rftmcr tmfe icrc rftjlefo kfokuoftjles prlhukch by jehjvjhufo fktlrs, fspjrftjles glri pfrt lg wjhcr systcis lg jhcfs tmft frc fssciboch kletjedcetoy by f iuotjpojkjty lg fktlrs. Bujohjed uple Fppfhurfj‚s eltjle lg fspjrftjles fs ”ecvcr sjipoy jehjvjhufo‚ feh fs prlhukts lg tmc jetcrfktjles lg hjsklurscs, trfhjtjles, gfijoy ifttcrs, chukftjles, jifdjeftjles, feh bcojcgs fblut ojgc, hcftm feh tmc scog (”tmc tmjka lg slkjfo ojgc‚) (2>>80 74), tmjs pfpcr (pfrt lg f wjhcr pjckc) js fe fttcipt tl sactkm tmc kletlurs lg jehjvjhufo feh kloocktjvc ”mlrjzles lg mlpc, hcsjrc, feh plssjbjojty‚ (Bueecoo & Dlm, 2>620 6) ‛ lr, wmft J kfoo, ”fggcktjvc ofehskfpcs lg fspjrftjle‚ filedst Fgrjkfes je Dufedzmlu‚s iusjk skcec. Gjefooy, by sactkmjed lut tmcsc ”ofehskfpcs‚, J jetceh tl tfac up tmc tfsa, rckliicehch by Bueecoo feh Dlm, lg ”klekcptufojsQjedY tmc kuoturfo glrkcs tmft hrjvc pclpoc tl bujoh feh rcbujoh tmcjr wlrohs je tmc gfkc lg lgtce hfuetjed kmfoocedcs‚ (2>620 6). By hljed sl, J mlpc tl prlvjhc f ilrc klipocx feh eufekch fkkluet lg tmc ojvcs feh cxpcrjcekcs lg Fgrjkfes je Dufedzmlu, feh f bcttcr uehcrstfehjed (bltm klekcptufooy feh cipjrjkfooy) lg mlw jehjvjhufos ”fktufooy efvjdftc tmcjr slkjfo spfkcs‚ (Fppfhurfj, 2>>80 =8), feh dujhc tmcjr trfeseftjlefo `lurecys.
Dufedzmlu fs f krlssrlfhs lg iuotjpoc ilbjojtjcs feh fspjrftjles
Elw, slic kletcxtufojsftjle js ecchch. Dufedzmlu mfs f oled mjstlry fs f trfhjed kcetrc je slutmcre Kmjef, feh jts mjstlrjkfo feh kletciplrfry jiplrtfekc je (rc)kleecktjed
 
Hrfgt pfpcr W.6.2 @uoy 2>68 / Rlbcrtl Kfstjool
Hrfgt lg f tfoa djvce ft tmc Fsjf Frt Frkmjvc je MA, pocfsc hl elt qultc lr kjtc
$
scvcrfo Kmjecsc cklelijk prlkcsscs tl tmlsc lg ltmcr pfrts lg tmc wlroh kfeelt bc lvcrstftch. Cvcry ycfr, kluetocss jehjvjhufos grli fkrlss tmc kluetry, feh tmc wlroh lvcr, frrjvc je tmc kjty ollajed glr lpplrtuejtjcs je tmc ifey trfesprlvjekjfo feh trfeseftjlefo vfouc kmfjes tmft klevcrdc tmcrc. Frdufboy, Dufedzmlu feh jts surrluehjed urbfe kcetrcs frc sjtcs lg ”mcjdmtcech ilbjojtjcs‚ ‛ cxcipofrs lg tmc kletciplrfry jetcrscktjles feh jetcrfktjles bctwcce jehjvjhufos le tmc trfeseftjlefo feh tmc trfesolkfo ilvc je Kmjef.
7
 Xmcsc jetcrfktjles mfvc drfhufooy rcsuotch je tmc cicrdcekc lg mjdmoy  vjsjboc iuotjctmejk slkjfo spfkcs feh je tmc frtjkuoftjle lg scvcrfo jekjpjcet but tmrjvjed subcklelijcs je tmc kjty0 tfac glr jestfekc gllhs, trfesplrtftjle, feh cetcrtfjeicet, foled wjtm jeglrifo cxkmfedc ifracts feh kcrtfje ”joocdfo‚ fktjvjtjcs, filedst ltmcrs, je  wmjkm glrcjde feh ”olkfo‚ sub`ckts jetcrfkt wjtm vfryjed hcdrccs lg jetcesjty (scc Kfstjool, 2>68).
4
 Mlwcvcr, je lrhcr tl uehcrstfeh tmc klipocxjty lg tmc ilbjojtjcs jetcrscktjed je tmc cicrdcekc lg tmcsc spfkcs, f ”rcskfojed‚ lg tmc eltjles lg tmc ”kjty‚ feh lg tmc ”ijdrfet/jiijdrfet‚ js ecchch. Jg leoy glr f ilicet wc tmjea lg tmc kjty/rcdjle bcyleh tmc trfhjtjlefo ecstch skfocs lg kjty/rcdjle/kluetry feh tmjea lg jt fs f krukjfo sjtc lg ”pjodrjifdc‚, lr f krlssrlfhs, je (feh tmrludm) wmjkm iuotjpoc trfeseftjlefo feh trfesolkfo (j.c. glrcjde feh jetcrefo) golws lg muife blhjcs, tmjeds, tckmeloldjcs, bcojcgs feh fspjrftjles klevcrdc, tmce tmc iuotjpoc muife (ji)ilbjojtjcs tmft krjsskrlss tmc kjty/rcdjle kfe bc scce grli f hjggcrcet pcrspcktjvc. Xmjs js, jg leoy glr f ilicet, fdfje,  wc tmjea lg ”jehjvjhufos le tmc ilvc‚ (”ijdrfets‚, jg ylu wfet) bcyleh tmc oces lg ictmlhloldjkfo eftjlefojsi (tmc prfktjkc lg usjed tmc eftjle stftc fs f ”efturfo‚ uejt lg fefoysjs), feh wc brjed tldctmcr tmc iuotjpoc ilbjoc sub`ckts klevcrdjed je Dufedzmlu letl tmc sfic pofec, tmce wc scc tmft, bfsch le tmc prckfrjty feh ojijefojty tmft kmfrfktcrjsc bltm glrcjde feh jetcrefo ”ijdrfet‚ cipofkcicets, tmc hjstjektjle bctwcce ”eftjlefos‚ feh ”glrcjdecrs‚ olscs kurrceky.
=
 Xmjs klipfrjsle js elt uegluehch feh ecchs tl bc tface scrjlusoy by rcscfrkmcrs. Jehcch, sjekc 2>>=, glrcjdecrs je Kmjef mfvc bcce pfjrch tl tmc kftcdlry lg ”golftjed plpuoftjle‚ feh frc supplschoy sub`cktch tl tmc ruocs feh rcduoftjles kletrloojed jts ifefdcicet (Ofe, 2>68). ^ut feltmcr wfy, fs f drlup (feh f ”ijelrjty‚, fs Blhlil (2>62) mfs jt) Fgrjkfes mfvc bcce jescrtch jetl tmc klipocx systcis feh hyefijks lg plpuoftjle kletrlo tmft tmc Kmjecsc stftc jiplscs uple ”Kmjecsc‚ ctmejk ijelrjtjcs0 crrftjk but systciftjk kletrlo/rcprcssjle (pcrkcjvch by slic  ‛ spckjfooy tmlsc uefwfrc lg tmc trcfticet lg ltmcr ijelrjtjcs ‛ fs ”rfkjfo prlgjojed‚ feh hjskrjijeftjle).
:
 Je smlrt, je tmc kfsc lg Fgrjkfes je Dufedzmlu, tmc spfkcs je wmjkm tmcy frc mjdmoy vjsjboc frc elt leoy iuotjctmejk trfeskuoturfo spfkcs, but fosl sjtcs wmcrc trfeseftjlefo Fgrjkfe golws icct/kloojhc wjtm tmlsc lg tmc trfesprlvjekjfo feh trfesctmejk Kmjecsc systcis ‛ ecjdmblurmllhs, mltcos, ifracts feh bfrs wmcrc tmc olkfo, trfesolkfo feh trfeseftjlefo klevcrdc. Mcekc, je lrhcr tl uehcrstfeh bcttcr tmc hyefijks lg Fgrjkfe prcscekc je Dufedzmlu, jt js elt leoy jipcrftjvc tmft lec dlcs bcyleh tmc bjefry oldjk lg tmc olkfo vs. glrcjde, but, pcrmfps ilrc jiplrtfetoy, tl fttceh tl tmc kuoturfo feh strukturfo klehjtjles tmft mfvc och Fgrjkfes tl jescrt tmciscovcs je spfkcs  wmcrc trfesjceky js tmc elri, rftmcr tmfe tmc cxkcptjle - je sjipoc wlrhs, ifey Fgrjkfes je Dufedzmlu tceh tl mfed lut wjtm Kmjecsc jetcrefo ijdrfets, feh smfrc, tl f kcrtfje cxtcet, slic lg tmc prlbocis tmcy gfkc0 slkjfo cxkousjle, cklelijk vuoecrfbjojty, jipfjrch ilbjojty, feh sl le.
6>
 Jt js je lec lg tmcsc spfkcs lg mcjdmtcech jetcrscktjed (ji)ilbjojtjcs, trfesjceky, prckfrjty feh ijdrfeky, tmft [ay mfs bcce tryjed tl strukturc mjs frtjstjk kfrccr, feh  wmcrc, je 2>>4, mc ict Kmcrry, mjs wjgc.
66
 Bcglrc prlkcchjed, jt iust bc eltch tmft tmc stlrjcs feh trf`cktlrjcs lg tmc jehjvjhufos J ict je Dufedzmlu frc iuotjgfrjlus. Xmc kfsc lg iusjkjfes js sjijofr. Xmcrc frc tmlsc wml wcrc iusjkjfes glr ifey ycfrs prjlr tl tmcjr frrjvfo je Kmjef. Ltmcrs kofji

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