Reference : Representing ‘otherness’ in African popular media: Chinese characters in Ethiopian vi...
Scientific journals : Article
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Multidisciplinary, general & others
Representing ‘otherness’ in African popular media: Chinese characters in Ethiopian video films
Jedlowski, Alessandro mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département des sciences sociales > Labo d'anthropologie sociale et culturelle (LASC) >]
Thomas, Michael W. []
Journal of African Cultural Studies
Yes (verified by ORBi)
[en] Ethiopian cinema; Chinese presence in Ethiopia ; representation of otherness; popular culture in Ethiopia ; autochthony and ethnicity; Ethiopia–China relations
[en] This article focuses on the recent phenomenon of Ethiopian films that prominently feature Chinese characters. As the success of these films relies on representing a stereotypical Chinese ‘Other’,
and in reference to China’s ever-growing presence in African countries, we pose broader questions relating to the place of ethnicity, race and national identity in popular cultural productions emerging from the continent. Through an analysis which caters for multiple and at times oppositional interpretations, we argue that the representation of the ‘Chinese Other’ constructed by these films at times criticizes and at times reasserts existing stereotypes and prejudices. The overriding view and intent of the filmmakers to use Chinese characters mainly as narrative devices is often functional in the development of specific, inward-looking social and political criticisms. But this attitude inevitably forces the films to overlook the key issue underlying discourses about otherness in Ethiopian popular media – namely the issue of how to deal with racial multiplicity in a
society that defines belonging along rigid and exclusionary terms.

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