China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Scholarship on China-Africa relations has recently surged, generating vibrant academic attention and public discussion. While most scholarly and popular debates on the topic emphasize contemporary economic and political issues, this panel enriches our understanding of Sino-Afro engagement through cultural and historical perspectives. The papers revisit musical performances and somatosensory architectural projects as a means of cultural exchange not only between China and African countries, but also between Chinese and African Americans throughout the twentieth century. Incorporating a transmedial and interdisciplinary approach, the panel addresses the creation and circulation of cultural forms as significant resources of knowledge and meaning (re)making in Sino-Afro relations that stimulate discourses of decolonization and solidarity. Keisha A. Brown examines how the dissemination and impact of African American music such as jazz and spirituals shaped ideas of Blackness in twentieth century China. Ling Zhang explores how African American singer Paul Robeson’s popularization of the Chinese film theme song “March of the Volunteer,” which would become the PRC national anthem, was linked to 1930s and 1940s anti-fascist/anti-colonial internationalism. Ignatius Suglo analyses African songs in China to highlight the role of African music in knowledge production and dissemination within the context of Africa-China relations. Ye Liu investigates how socialist somatosensory experience and knowledge were produced in China’s architectural projects in Africa during the Third World anti-imperialism and decolonization movement in the 1960s and 1970s. By situating these trans-continental dialogues in a historical context, these discussions deeply resonate with contemporary racial discourses and political shifts on a global scale.