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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Entrepreneurship and Interracial Dynamics: A Case Study of Self-Employed Africans and Chinese in Guangzhou, China

  • Author(s): Zhou, Min
  • Xu, Tao
  • Shenasi, Shabnam
  • et al.

Guangzhou is the most popular gateway city for African migration to China. Unlike stereotypical international migrants, Africans in Guangzhou are predominantly self-made entrepreneurs, doing business face-to-face with Chinese entrepreneurs who are predominantly internal migrants with truncated citizenship rights. African-Chinese encounters in local markets and residential neighborhoods offer a rare opportunity for studying interracial dynamics beyond the classic black-white dichotomy and traditional paradigm of ethnic entrepreneurship. In this paper, we draw from in-depth interviews and field observations to examine how interacting social forces shape interracial relations and mobility pathways for migrant entrepreneurs in an emerging city of opportunities. Our analyses suggest that interactions between African and Chinese entrepreneurs are economically interdependent and socioculturally contentious processes, shaping a myriad of intersecting identities and creating room for cooperation that transcends race, class, and migrant status. We discuss the theoretical implications of these findings.

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