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Landscapes of Aspiration in Guangzhou's African Music Scene: Beyond the Trading Narrative

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Castillo, Roberto

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Abstract "This article is an exploration into the personal aspirations that converge in Guangzhou's African music scene. I argue that despite being often traversed, articulated, fuelled, and constrained by economies and economic discourses, aspirations are not necessarily economic or rational calculations. I contend that the overarching trading narrative about 'Africans in Guangzhou' has left little space for issues of agency, emotion, and aspiration to be considered in their own right. Drawing on a year of continuous ethnographic fieldwork, I show how aspirations are crucial arenas where the rationales behind transnational mobility are developed, reproduced, and transmitted. Indeed, aspirations can be thought of as 'navigational devices' (Appadurai 2004) that help certain individuals reach for their dreams. By bringing the analysis of aspirations to the fore, I intend to provide a more complex and nuanced landscape of the multiple rationales behind African presence in Southern China; promote a better understanding (both conceptually and empirically) of how individuals navigate their social spaces and guide their transnational journeys; and draw attention to the incessant frictions and negotiations between individual aspirations while on the move and the constraints imposed by more structural imperatives." (author's abstract)
Keywords China; African; ethnography; music; musician; ; cultural identity; subculture; social construction; identity formation; international migration; migration; migrant
Classification Migration, Sociology of Migration; Cultural Sociology, Sociology of Art, Sociology of Literature
Document language English
Publication Year 2015
Page/Pages p. 83-115
Journal Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 44 (2015) 4
Issue topic Foreign Lives in a Globalising City: Africans in Guangzhou
ISSN 1868-4874
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-NoDerivs