Linguistic landscape of African community in Guangzhou

Jiapei GU (Presenter), Tsz Ying LAI

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


African migrants in Guangzhou have been the focus of research in Sino-African relations. Prior studies have investigated the demographic profiles and features, economic, cultural, and religious activities, grassroots interpersonal interactions and relations, and the well-being of the African community in Guangzhou. It is reported that African migrants have established enclaves in the areas of Xiaobei and Sanyuanli. By investigating the linguistic landscapes of those two areas, this study aims to further the current scholarly discussion of the African community in Guangzhou. Languages are not only words but also social practices. The examination of the linguistic landscape of a particular place helps track changes in the population and shed light on power relations. Based on our ethnographic observations of both bottom-up (e.g. shop signages, mannequins, and menus) and top-down (e.g. road signs and official notices) semiotic signs in Guangzhou, we argue that (1) English, though limited, serves as the lingua franca for interpersonal communication between Chinese and Africans; (2) the semiotic signs in those areas together form an invisible, but clear boundary dividing the world for Africans and the world Chinese. This indicates that the interethnic integration in the enclaves in Guangzhou is, to a large extent, similar to a salad bowl rather than a melting pot.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2024
EventPostgraduate Conference on Interdisciplinary Learning: Reimaging Postgraduate Studies in the New Digital Age - Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Duration: 6 Apr 20246 Apr 2024


ConferencePostgraduate Conference on Interdisciplinary Learning
Country/TerritoryHong Kong


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