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HUMA Research Seminar
Shortcut English: A Pidgin Language and “Racialization” at a Chinese-Operated Mine in Zambia


“Shortcut English” is a pidgin spoken between Zambians and Chinese migrants at a Chinese-operated mine in southern Zambia. Contrary to most historical contact languages, the symbolic valences of Shortcut English favor Zambian laborers over Chinese mine managers and owners. Though in the past Zambians at the mine categorized Chinese as bamukuwa/“whites,” the dynamics of Shortcut English increasingly result in Chinese being figured as ma chainizi, a denigrated subcategory of whites whom Zambians see as unfit to run the mine, contributing to sometimes violent resistance against mine management. [pidgin; mining; racialization; raciolinguistics; ideology; Zambia; China]



Justin Haruyama is a Ph.D. candidate in cultural anthropology at University of California, Davis. His research examines the controversial presence of Chinese migrants in Africa today, bringing together the study of racial conflict and labor migration, neocolonialism and resource extractivism, and emerging transformations in global capitalism. Drawing upon over two years of multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in both Zambia and China, Haruyama examines relations at a Chinese-operated coal mine in Zambia as well as in the hometowns of its miners in both countries. This mining context has engendered not only violence but also new linguistic, religious, and familial formations that put the very categories of “Zambian” and “Chinese” into variation. Taking issue with simplistic narratives that have too frequently painted Chinese companies and individuals in Africa as either neocolonial exploiters or South-South “win-win” development partners, Haruyama demonstrates how concrete encounters between Chinese and Zambians are far more ambivalent and open-ended than is often portrayed by such rhetoric about “China in Africa.”

Speaker(s) Mr. Justin Lee HARUYAMA
PhD Candidate, Sociocultural Anthropology
University of California, Davis
Date 22 Nov 2021 (Monday)
Time 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Venue Room 3301, SHSS Seminar Room (Lift no. 2) or Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 967 7968 5241
Passcode: 916048
Language English
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