About CA/AC



As Chinese engagement in Africa continues apace, scholarly research, media coverage, and public debate continue to pay attention to the geopolitical consequences of China’s presence on the continent. Despite nearly 30 years of renewed migration to Africa, less attention has been paid to the day-to-day interactions and everyday encounters of ordinary people that occur in tandem with expanding bilateral relations and interests of transnational businesses. With some reports indicating that there are now over a million Chinese living and working in Africa, relatively little is known about this growing migrant group across the continent. Few reliable and accurate accounts of contemporary migration exist to shed light on numbers, motivations, and activities of this group or local responses to them. Furthermore, scholarship only rarely situates China-Africa engagement in historical context.

Simultaneously, African migrants such as students, investors, traders, and professionals have been making their way to China in increasing numbers over the past decades. Since the 2000s in particular, many Africans from across the continent have settled in China, concentrating mostly in Guangzhou, a city in south China, in large cities throughout the country and in peri-urban and rural areas. Little is known about these new communities, which, like the Chinese in Africa, face everyday challenges with local culture, language, society, and bureaucracy.

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What we do

The Chinese in Africa/Africans in China (CA/AC) Research Network is a unique group that focuses primarily on these people-oriented aspects of China-Africa engagement. Our mission is to promote debate, cutting-edge research and ideas about China-Africa issues by supporting and encouraging the work and communication of a large and rapidly growing network of international scholars, students, media professionals and practitioners who are engaged in this growing field

Today, the CA/AC Research Network provides the only independent and international platform for real-time discussions, interactive debates, and insightful knowledge-sharing through the use of digital media and conferences. We foster exchange and discussion about the growing relationship between Chinese and Africans by playing a leading role in developing an active community of researchers and experts. Beyond our network, we also offer knowledge, experience, and expertise from the field to a wider interested public.

In addition to providing a dynamic interactive virtual platform where members meet, debate, inquire, and stay in touch, the CA/AC Research Network organizes conferences, workshops, and events around the world. These events have spurred dozens of publications, including special issues of African & Asian Studies Journal, Journal of Contemporary China, African Studies Review and the Journal of Current Chinese Affairs. In addition, we also provide the media with nuanced analysis and informed perspectives based on extensive field research. The CA-AC is also active on the ground having recently generated two local social networking groups in Washington DC and Johannesburg.

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The network is made up of both senior and young scholars; public servants, diplomats and consultants, development, environment and international security practitioners; as well as journalists and filmmakers who work on a wide range of issues including migration, labor relations, race, gender, local politics,  identity and public policy. Our members come from all over the world, specialize in different disciplines, and work in different sectors. Our members include some of the foremost scholars on China/Africa relations, representatives of many of the China-Africa focused research centers and projects around the globe, as well as PhD candidates involved in cutting-edge field research.

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Originally established in 2007 at the Centre for Sociological Research at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, by a group of China-Africa scholars, the CA/AC Research Network rapidly grew into the largest single academic and professional network of its kind. Its unique character is shaped and defined by the wealth of experience of its members who share a commitment to field research and extensive first-hand experience of unfolding events both in China and across the African continent.

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The CA/AC Research Network is currently working in partnership with the Social Science Research Council to increase its visibility and reach through the development of a web-based presence. Our goal is to create more accessible web-based resources, including syllabi and bibliographies as well as experts’ profiles. We continue to maintain our partnership with Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, with whom we have hosted events and developed curricula. As we work towards expanding our public presence, discussions are underway with the South African Institute for International Affairs in Johannesburg, the Centre for Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape, and Jinan University in Guangzhou about consolidating and formalizing relations.

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About the logo

The logo for the Chinese in Africa/Africans in China was the winning submission of a competition that we held amongst our members. Our winner, Christian Straube, is a PhD candidate at Heidelberg University in Germany.

The logo is based on the Chinese character hù, a component of the Chinese word xiānghù (相互), which means reciprocal. The concept of reciprocity is linked to the core of our research network and mirrors the focus on both Chinese in Africa and Africans in China.
The separated L-like shapes symbolize China and Africa and their geographic distance. The separation also expresses the need initiative before any Sino-African encounter may take place.

Two trapeziums represent the Chinese in Africa and the Africans in China. Both have the same size, advocating equality within the encounter and the necessity to study both. They have no borders as the interaction takes place directly. The legs of the trapeziums symbolize adaptability within a new cultural context as well as the importance of individual histories, values and priorities.

The space in the center stands for the transcultural space of the encounter. This space represents the results of Africa-China encounters including new phenomena, ideas, challenges and opportunities.

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For more information

For further information about the CA/AC Research Network, please contact us.

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