( pn98 )

​​Asia in Africa: Politics of Imagination and Ethics Beyond “the West”


    Sertac Sehlikoglu

    United Kingdom

    UCL, Institute for Global Prosperity

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

    Yu Qiu


    Zhejiang University

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence


Africa, Asia, Soft Power, Political Imagination, Philantrophy, Ethics


Extensive literature has discussed the ways in which political ideologies, power relations, and intercontinental social connections are manifested through philanthropy and humanitarian interventions in Africa. An overwhelming majority of this literature, however, focuses on the cases between Western powers and their relations with various African countries, many of which are their past colonies. What is less studied, on the other hand, is the role of non-Western and non-European actors in social, cultural, humanitarian, philanthropic and economic presence across Africa. This panel is specifically interested in Asian-African interactions. While part of those investments is to expand the local Asian socio-economic capacities beyond Asia and Europe, a number of others (ie. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE) are simultaneously developing social ties through religion. Often, those religious, historical, and social interconnectivities are simply referred to as ‘soft power’, suggesting a terminology tainted with colonial power dynamics. We invite scholars seeking a nuanced, ethnographically-grounded research that challenges the limits of Eurocentric understandings of inter-continental connectivities. Ethnographically grounded research that investigates various political ideological legacies and the intimate effects across continents is particularly encouraged. How do religious and non-religious actors from Asia engage with social and moral issues in African societies? How does the condition of being non-Western and non-European connect and separate these two continents (Asia and Africa)? How do the investors and local communities establish rapport with one another? What are the conditions and principles through which they establish trust, duty, grace, hospitality as well as mistrust, betrayal, or indolence? How do they form a common ground in such intangible intersubjective human connections? How do race and ethnicity operate in shaping interpersonal identity politics and building up trusty and ethical relations? The papers that consciously bring forward a decolonial tone with the aim of drawing our scholarly attention away from the existing notions of world order or Eurocentrism are welcomed. This is organised as part of a collaborative project co-designed by scholars at UCL and at Zhejiang University.