Xia Chao

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Duquesne U.

Grant number

Gr. 10571

Approve Date

September 29, 2023

Project Title

Chao, Xia (Duquesne U.) "Africatown in Guangzhou as Geosemiotic Assemblage: Grassroots Language and Materiality on the Move in the Post−COVID-19 World"

Recent anthropology research on metrolingual and semiotic signs indicates new ways of seeing the sociolinguistic, cultural, and sensory aspects of public space in social life. Combining these perspectives in a geosemiotic approach, this ethnography aims to explore these aspects of the Africatown which has emerged as unique social space for approximately 100,000 migrants from Africa in Guangzhou, the manufacturing and transportation hub in southern China over the past three decades. The Africatown shows improved anthropological attention to grassroots globalization and multilingualism (Appadurai, 2000; Han, 2013); namely, flows of non-elite people, languages, goods, and cultures across nations at the individual level. The COVID-19 pandemic has induced unprecedented disruption in globalization and massive effort to adapt by African migrants, and further added fuel to deglobalization that was already underway and underscored the need for greater national self-sufficiency and reducing economic, geopolitical, and cultural interconnectedness among nations (Amadi, 2020; Awan, 2016). By discussing how signs and objects are entangled with African migrants’ perceptions and practices in Africatown after China’s ditching of its zero-COVID policy in December 2022, this study contributes to the existing multidisciplinary literature on social space and a fuller (de-)globalization narrative in the post-COVID-19 world through the lens of African migrants.