A Lecture by Su Zheng of Wesleyan University. Rubenstein 249 (Carpenter Room) at Duke University.
What does it mean when an African pop singer sings in Mandarin Chinese on China’s CCTV that she wants to marry a Chinese? How the notion of “race” and “blackness” are entering China’s popular culture? China-Africa relationship has recently become a hot topic in global political and economic debates. Yet, everyday live experiences and popular expressions associated with the unprecedented interactions between China and Africa have been little explored areas. In this talk, drawing upon my recent fieldwork among African musicians in China, I will discuss the Beijing-based Sierra Leone pop singer Maliya (Mariatu Kargbo) and her signature song “Marry to Chinese.” By closely examining the lyrics, music, and image of the song, the historical legacy of China’s official approach towards “Black Africa,” and the recent African migrants’ experience in Reform China, I draw attention to how Africa and China’s new relationship is being characterized through eroticism and racial differences in cultural representations.