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P2-D: Transnational Mobility and Belonging: Korean Migrants in South Africa

This subproject “Transnational Mobility and Belonging: Korean Migrants in South Africa” by Yonson Ahn delves into transnational and diasporic mobility and Korean migrants’ embodiments of belonging in South Africa. The project explores themes such as transnational connectivity between place of origin and settlement through migrants’ on-going links to Korea, regular return visits, and the practice of sending children to Korea for education. Korean migrants’ space in the “Rainbow State” is examined within the context of “othering”, “saming”, and the complexity of diaspora identity. Furthermore, Korean im/migrants' engagement with the South African economy is examined in terms of their business initiatives and competition with Chinese traders and products, which affect their ability to live more societally and economically integrated lives.

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P2-B: Confucius Institutes and transregional spaces of education

While the first phase researched Confucius Institutes at African universities, the second phase of the project focuses on African Confucius Institutes students who live, learn and work in China. The project investigates if and in which ways the training at Confucius Institutes prepares its students for their stay in China and which narratives of China are presented to African audiences.

Two topics are of particular interest here: firstly the project is concerned with the question what potential discrepancies between the imaginaries of China in Africa and the Chinese reality are observed by African Confucius Institute students in China. Secondly the project investigates what personal options Confucius Institutes present to their African students in China and how the work of Confucius Institutes as part of China’s soft power strategy contributes to the emergence of new transregional spaces of education.

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P2-A: Indian Ocean Imaginaries and Memories in Transregional Afrasian Spaces

This project addresses transformation of Indian Ocean imaginaries and memories in East and South Africa, Indonesia, Oman, Iran, Diego Garcia, China and India. Our research has so far demonstrated the limiting nature of the ‘Indian Ocean’ approach since Afrasian (Africa-Asian) interactions go beyond the littoral states of the Indian Ocean to Indonesia and beyond. This project therefore studies the cultural production and transformation of “Indian Ocean imaginaries” and "Indian Ocean memories” which we perceive of as “Afrasian imaginaries” and ”Afrasian memories“ (see Karugia 2017, Schulze-Engler 2014) within transcultural settings (Erll, 2011).

The central research question focusses on transregional connections between imaginaries and memories of the Indian Ocean region generated by historical African-Asian interactions on the one hand and the representation of today’s African-Asian interactions. We ask how the Indian Ocean works as a space of memory in Asian and African memory cultures. The ‘Afrasian Ocean’ world connects multiethnic communities. In some of these Afrasian spaces, we observe a paradigm-shift from competitive towards multidirectional memory (in the sense of M. Rothberg 2009). With our focus on Afrasian imaginaries and memories, we target the historical emergence and contemporary constitution of new transregional concepts of space. With its historical focus, this project contributes to lending historical depth to the analysis of African-Asian interactions within the AFRASO research programme as a whole.

Regarding Afrasian imaginaries, the project is based on the assumption that Afrasian imaginaries differ vastly throughout East Africa. We therefore analyze the corpus of East African literature in East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda) from 1960 to the present day with a special focus on: concepts and images of the Indian Ocean area as a transregional cultural contact zone, representations of Asians, Asian culture and Asian countries and different versions of Afrasian imaginaries in coastal regions and the East African hinterland. The combined analysis of dhow literature in English and Swahili and the corpus of anglophone East African writing is designed to produce new insights into the complex genesis and transformation of Afrasian imaginaries and to provide differentiated answers to the question if and how contemporary images and concepts of the Indian Ocean as transregional contact zone build on earlier Afrasian imaginaries, or whether representations of current African-Asian interactions are characterized by a break with these historically generated imaginaries.

As regards Afrasian memories, we perceive them as „connective memories.“ They connect, reconnect and articulate transregional historical imaginaries. We analyze how the long history of exchange between Africa and Asia is remembered today and which functions such memories fulfil in the light of current interactions. Our assumption is that the centuries-old relations between both regions (trade, migration, slavery, indentured labour, soldiers etc.) are not simply forgotten in the face of today's Afrasian interactions (such as labour migration, tourism, transnational media cultures), but that they constitute a "space of experience" (R. Koselleck) against which the present situation is understood and expectations for the future are articulated. Museums, literature and other media, memory institutions and memory sites across the world of the „Afrasian Ocean“ address human interactions and power dynamics across time and space. We ask how Afrasian imaginaries and memories contribute to an understanding of present and future African-Asian interactions.

In the framework of AFRASO, our goals are to understand, first, the significance of historical imagination for transregional conceptions of space and, second, the importance of local imaginary and memory cultures for the representation and interpretation of current African-Asian interactions. In light of the foregoing, we are analysing the production of contemporary transnational imaginaries of citizenship, the complex negotiation of transcultural identities amongst old Asian-African and new Asian diasporas, claims of long-standing transregional socio-political and cultural links, new and old memory sites built or claimed by certain Afrasian communities and Afrasian bio-politics within old and emergent Afrasian diasporas.

'Memory', in this project, describes on the one hand elements of explicit, official memory culture (e.g. the remembrance of Gandhi in South Africa); on the other hand, we reconstruct what John C. Hawley (2008, 4), drawing on James C. Scott, has called "hidden transcripts": implicit, non-official, private and subaltern forms of memory, which, however, can be articulated in literature, photography, film and other media. Such imaginaries and memories have especially come to the fore in interviews we conducted with various groups of people in South Africa, East Africa, Oman, China and India as well as in our recent investigation of ‘travelling afrasian objects’ and ‘multidirectional mnemoeconomics’ (see Karugia 2017).

An Afrasian framework has allowed us to investigate transregional dynamics of interactions and relations between Africa and Asia across the vastness of time and space. This perspective has counteracted the danger of perceiving ‘Afrasia’ as a new transregional ‘container.’ Our research on Afrasian imaginaries and memories conceives of Afrasian’ as a sensitizing term that opens up new perspectives and as a new way of looking at and analyzing various contemporary dynamics in this transregion. We critically self-reflect on limitations of our ‘Afrasian’ perspective. This Afrasian way of looking at this transregion can only become productive if blurred spaces and places like its connectivity with Afrabia (Africa and Arabia) are adequately addressed (see Karugia, 2018 in preparation).

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Chinese to Be Taught in Kenyan and South African Schools

Kenya is working on a plan to introduce the teaching of Chinese as a foreign language in its schools. According to plans announced by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) in late April, the language will be optional like French, German and Spanish which are already taught in Kenyan schools.

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South Africa Damages its Image Over the Dalai Lama

One week ago, South Africa was forced to cancel the 14th World Peace Summit, which had been scheduled to start October 13 in Cape Town, after nine former Nobel Peace Laureates and 11 affiliated organizations announced they would boycott the conference.

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From The Frying Pan Into The Fire? Asia’s African Options

Co-authored by Simone Claar

While we were attending the 1st AADUN-AFRASO conference from 11th to 14th March 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, we took the opportunity to explore the city on the fringe of the scheduled conference programme and noticed that a variety of South African products were available on the market. This included the usual selection of South African wines but also extended to such condiments as Mama Africa’s or Ina Paarman’s condiments stocked in the local supermarket. Yet, more surprisingly, we also discovered a couple of Nando’s restaurants in some of the most prominent spots of the city: one, for example, could be found in the Times Square Mall and another bordered on Chinatown.

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Zambia's economic strategy – beyond populist attitudes toward China and South Africa

Co-authored by Birthe Pater

In September 2011, the Zambians voted for change - a new government led by President Michael Sata from the Patriotic Front (PF). Michael Sata was well known as the ‘China basher’ in his first election campaign in 2006, which culminated in threats of an earlier Chinese ambassador to cut ties with Zambia, if Sata becomes the new president. At that point, Sata promised to recognize Taiwan as an independent country. He failed to win the election and toned his rhetoric down in the second run. But still, one pillar of Sata’s election campaign in 2011 was promises in favor of workers – job creation and paving roads. Although security standards and labor conditions increased in the mines in general, the ‘Chinese’ mines still challenge these improvements.

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A little revolution? Open source of SA research

Within the scientific community, the debate about access to research results and the dominance of the main publishing houses has been an ongoing issue in the last years: “You are what and where you publish” in the academic system of the 21st century...

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BRICS-from-below: An alternative to the alternative

Strolling along the beach front of Durban’s Central Business District with its mixture of modern high-rises and colonial-era buildings one can easily understand why South Africa chose the city for hosting the 5th BRICS Summit in March 2013: The modern hotels, conference centers and boulevards represent the South Africa Pretoria wanted to show the Brazilian, Russian, Indian and Chinese heads of state. After all, South Africa is under some pressure to justify its entry into the exclusive grouping in 2010, since in terms of GDP and domestic market it hardly lives up to the other four countries.

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