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Open Access We Are what We Eat: Food in the Process of Community Formation and Identity Shaping among African Traders in Guangzhou and Yiwu

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We Are what We Eat: Food in the Process of Community Formation and Identity Shaping among African Traders in Guangzhou and Yiwu

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Abstract In this paper we analyze two African communities in Guangzhou and Yiwu, China, arguing that among Guangzhou Africans on the one hand, Black Africans, particularly West Africans, have a tighter community and interact more with each other than Black Africans in Yiwu. On the other hand, Maghrebian Africans in Yiwu have a tighter community and maintain a more cohesive interaction than their counterparts in Guangzhou. Evidence for this characterization of the communities comes from food and communal food-eating habits. There are hardly any West African restaurants in Yiwu while there is an abundance of West African and other Black African restaurants in Guangzhou where there is more community patronage. In contrast, there are more concentrations of North African restaurants in Yiwu than in Guangzhou. We discuss the crucial role food and food-making and eating places play in providing structures and avenues for community bonding to promote community formation and community identity shaping.

Abstract In this paper we analyze two African communities in Guangzhou and Yiwu, China, arguing that among Guangzhou Africans on the one hand, Black Africans, particularly West Africans, have a tighter community and interact more with each other than Black Africans in Yiwu. On the other hand, Maghrebian Africans in Yiwu have a tighter community and maintain a more cohesive interaction than their counterparts in Guangzhou. Evidence for this characterization of the communities comes from food and communal food-eating habits. There are hardly any West African restaurants in Yiwu while there is an abundance of West African and other Black African restaurants in Guangzhou where there is more community patronage. In contrast, there are more concentrations of North African restaurants in Yiwu than in Guangzhou. We discuss the crucial role food and food-making and eating places play in providing structures and avenues for community bonding to promote community formation and community identity shaping.

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/content/journals/10.1163/187254612x646198
2012-01-01
2016-12-03

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