China Perspectives 2019/4


(Re)imagining Chinese Spaces in Urban Africa. Dialogues across the Built and the Lived

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China Perspectives 2019/4

Special Feature

Editorial – (Un)writing “Chinese Space” in Urban Africa: Of City-Making, Lived Experiences, and Entangled Processes Page 3

Romain DittgenGerald Chungu

Between Global and Local: Urban Inter-referencing and the Transformation of a Sino-South African Megaproject Page 9

Ricardo ReboredoFrances Brill

ABSTRACT: In 2012, a Chinese developer, Zendai, purchased 1,600 hectares of land in Modderfontein, Johannesburg, and announced plans for a new urban megadevelopment. Hiring a Chinese designer, the company released a series of computer-generated images. Drawing on these, the media and many in the city perceived the site to be distinctly “Chinese,” rooted in futuristic, speculative visions of urbanity. At the same time, African urban research turned its attention to similar large-scale projects throughout the continent, and has continued to speculate on their consequences. Building on these two different interpretations of Modderfontein, this paper engages with the site as a manifestation of both global trends (e.g., increasing Chinese engagement with Africa, urban inter-referencing throughout the Global South) and a reflection of place- and context-specific factors. In doing so, we focus on the ordinariness of the project to interrogate how the idea of creating an ultramodern global economic hub, rooted in the experiences and practices of a Chinese-based developer, was in the end mediated by the actions of international consultants and the City of Johannesburg. We suggest that Modderfontein should be seen as a generative form of urbanism where elements perceived to be Chinese were lost in the master planning process. We argue that the socio-material dimensions of the project instead reflect a distinctly South African urbanism.
KEYWORDS: Johannesburg, real estate, megaproject, comparative urbanism, China/Africa.

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Rwanda Market in Addis Ababa: Between Chinese Migrants and a Local Food Network Page 17

Zhengli Huang

ABSTRACT: The increasing number of Chinese migrants in Ethiopia has created a niche market for Chinese food consumption, turning Rwanda Market into the only urban food market specialising in Chinese products in the city of Addis Ababa. The specific character of this market is that even though it primarily serves the demands of foreign migrants, the food value chain and the business network is predominantly local. Positioned in a relatively conservative business environment in Ethiopia’s food sector, the local business network in Rwanda Market actively adapts to the needs of the migrant community and expands its food value chain. Through daily interactions between the local business network and Chinese food consumers, convivial relations are evolving in and beyond the market. These interactions contribute to reshaping the socio-economic space of the market and the food landscape of the city. This study of Rwanda Market provides empirical material for the developing and diversifying research field of China-Africa encounters.
KEYWORDS: Ordinary spaces, ethnic food market, China-Africa encounter, migration.

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Maitreya’s Garden in the Township: Transnational Religious Spaces of Yiguandao Activists in Urban South Africa Page 27

Nikolas Broy

ABSTRACT: This paper seeks to explore the spaces created by practitioners of the Taiwanese-Chinese religious movement Yiguandao 一 貫 道 (“Way of Pervading Unity”) in urban South Africa. Drawing on ethnographic data from fieldwork conducted in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town in late 2017 as well as on published Yiguandao materials, this contribution analyses how these spaces are created, maintained, and charged with meaning. It investigates the uses of these spaces as well as how and why various actors engage in them. By proposing a preliminary typology that is based on the location, function, and mobility of these spaces, this contribution argues that Yiguandao religious spaces represent more intense arenas of transcultural interaction than most other – and predominantly economic – Chinese spaces in Africa.
KEYWORDS: Taiwanese religions, Chinese religions, South Africa, Yiguandao, Chinese migration, globalisation, religious transnationalism.

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Photo Essay – Of Spatial and Temporal Entanglements – Narrating a (Chinese) Street in Suburban Johannesburg Page 37

Romain DittgenMark LewisGerald Chungu


Negotiations and Asymmetric Games in Chinese Editorial Departments: The Search for Editorial Autonomy by Journalists of Dongfang Zaobao and Pengpai/The Paper Page 45

Alain Peter

ABSTRACT: At the beginning of the twenty-first century, journalism in China was marked by a breakthrough in investigative journalism that resulted from a particular conjuncture: the central government’s wish to control local authorities through surveillance by the media, coupled with the desire of a new generation of journalists to carry out investigations in a professional manner. Between 2003 and 2016, a group of journalists in Shanghai running the daily paper Dongfang Zaobao and then the news site Pengpai bore witness to this period. A series of interviews with these journalists enabled us to understand their strategy over the long term and identify a phase of negotiations with the authorities that led to the creation of media and a period of asymmetric game-playing to produce information. It emerged that although the journalists accumulated major successes in matters of investigation, the authorities ultimately always curtailed editorial freedom.
KEYWORDS: Journalism, investigation, media, game, negotiation, censorship, Shanghai.

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Book Reviews

LEE, Ching Kwan. 2018. The Specter of Global China: Politics, Labor, and Foreign Investment in Africa. Page 53

Katy N. Lam

YU, Kiki Tianqi. 2019. ‘My’ Self on Camera: First Person Documentary Practice in an Individualizing China. Page 54

Luke Robinson

VALJAKKA, Minna, and Meiqin WANG (eds). 2018. Urbanized interface: Visual Arts, Representations and Interventions in Contemporary China. Page 55

Jérémy Cheval

JAGOU, Fabienne (ed.). 2018. The Hybridity of Buddhism: Contemporary Encounters between Tibetan and Chinese Traditions in Taiwan and the Mainland. Page 56

Ji Zhe




























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