Lecture by Dr. Huamei Han

October 17, 2014 - 1:00pm to 2:30pm

“China shops” in Oshikango: Grassroots Multilingualism at the Namibia-Angola Border in Globalization

A lecture by Dr. Huamei Han, 17 October 2014, 1-2:30pm, 108 Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson.

Drawing from an ongoing sociolinguistic ethnography, this talk focuses on “China shops” in Oshikango, a boomtown at the Namibia-Angola border and a harsh and hostile environment in 2011. Based on ethnographic observations and interviews, complimented by relevant texts, I first sketch a community profile and the socioeconomic and historical-political situations that enabled the emergence and then saturation of China shops in Oshikango. I then trace individual trajectories and analyze the discourses of Chinese migrants, followed by an analysis of Namibian interviewees’ criticism of China shops and “the Chinese”. Focusing on multilingual practices and ideologies in this border town, I illustrate how both parties were caught in the polarizing processes of globalization in post-colonial Namibia. I argue that grassroots multilingualism as a sociolinguistic concept may help to examine globalization as experienced by various “Chinese” persons in “Chinese diasporas,” and by individuals and groups differentially positioned in today’s global geopolitical order.

An Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University in Canada, Dr. Huamei Han works at the intersection of Applied Linguistics, Sociolinguistics, Anthropology, Education, and Migration and Globalization Studies to document and analyze the creative strategies racialized linguistic minorities use to make sense of their experiences and the barriers they face in Canada, China, and southern Africa.         

 Her current project on grassroots multilingualism in China-Africa trade migration is funded d by two consecutive grants from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

East Asian Studies Colloquium. Fall, 2014.      

With generous support from School of Anthropology, Africana Studies, the Confucius Institute, Global Studies, and Second Language Acquisition and Teaching.