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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften

22.11. Afrikakolloquium - Best Frenemies: China-African relations in Southern African science fiction

China in the African Imaginary - Vortrag von Dr. Nedine Moonsamy (University of Pretoria/IAAW)
Wann 22.11.2017 von 16:15 bis 17:15 (Europe/Berlin / UTC100) iCal
Wo Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften, Invalidenstr. 118, Raum 410
Kontaktname Prof. Dr. Susanne Gehrmann


Best frenemies: China-African relations in southern African science fiction.


Using contemporary Science Fiction as a barometer, 'China' undoubtedly occupies a significant part of the African imaginary as authors imagine various dystopian futures about current Sino-African connections. According to Isiah Lavender, the notion of a ‘yellow peril’ is not new to science fiction, as “rampant paranoia concerning vast Asian hordes invading America existed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries” (Race in American Science Fiction 2011, pp. 13). The current sociopolitical circumstances in Africa – and its science fiction output – appears to be no different.


Given that dystopias are often manifestations of contemporary fears, it is unsurprising that various cultural theorists have noted a growing spirit of resentment in Africa towards the Chinese inter-/national project. Through an examination of three science fiction short stories from Southern Africa, however, I contend that there is a more historical and compelling South-South dialogue that warrants exploration. I conduct a close reading of Tendai Huchu’s “The Sale” (Zimbabwe), Mandisi Nkomo’s “Heresy” (South Africa) and Abigail Godsell’s “Taal” (South Africa) in order to eke out a broader cultural and intellectual perspective; these three stories all imagine that China has indeed risen as a new technoscientific empire in global politics but provide different speculative prospects regarding Africa’s future. Upon reading these stories, we are forced to question what is Africa’s role in succumbing to failure in the light of new world powers.


Through these varied and nuanced fictional lenses, it becomes possible to reconsider the interconnection between these two spaces as one other than Chinese neocolonialism and African exploitation. As theorists opine, China and Africa have an historical engagement that is significantly different from contemporary sociopolitical circumstances. Hence it is possible to argue that these spaces are more intimately aligned in the shared complexity of their 'Southern' circumstances despite the drastic shift in China’s economic power.


Nedine Moonsamy is a Senior Lecturer in the English Literature department at the University of Pretoria. She is currently writing a monograph entitled A Country Out of Time: an examination of nostalgia and nationalism in contemporary South African Fiction and launching a research project on Science Fiction in Africa.