Sponsored by the Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity
South Africa has the largest population of Chinese on the African continent. It is also home to one of the few multi-generational local Chinese communities in the region, with others in Mauritius, Reunion, and Madagascar. That which is often viewed, from the outside, as one Chinese community, however, is actually several different Chinese communities. This paper explores the various phases of Chinese migration to South Africa, the concerns of the different communities, as well as alliances and contestation between communities. In the context of a history of exclusion and a post-apartheid South Africa still struggling to construct a unifying national identity, address highly controversial policies of racially-based redress, and deal with outbursts of xenophobic violence, the paper also attempts to position the various communities of Chinese, both South African and immigrant. Where do the Chinese fit in? And will they (ever) become South African – or is true South African citizenship reserved for (a particular group of) Blacks only?