This review uses multilingual sources to illuminate China–Africa encounters in historical, socialist, and postsocialist contexts. It emphasizes interregional connections over time and uses nuanced ethnographic accounts to complement macrogeopolitical analyses. The article focuses on mutual stereotypes as well as on the negotiation of social and cultural barriers in everyday life. It challenges static, bounded conceptual categories in social science and policy research. The ethnographic studies cited highlight the complexities of human agency and historical legacies on the ground and show the contested democratization of space and opportunities that ensue both when Africans enter Chinese social fields and vice versa. In the process, these examples force us to rethink analytical assumptions about mobility, hierarchy, and political economy in ways that complicate Cold War–derived understandings of both China and Africa.


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