Johannesburg Calling?

Last night, almost two years since we first and last met with each other in China, I had the pleasure of chatting with Sanusha Naidu once again. Again we had a lot of fun together but also talked about serious issues. The whole conferece of Chinese in Africa and Africans in China actually was characterized by an extremely relaxed, intimate, humorous and mutually supporting atmosphere – more a meeting of old and new friends than a business meeting. Sanusha strongly encouraged me in the idea that has come to my mind during the last couple of days here to try to include the Chinese presence in South Africa into our comparative study on Ghana and Senegal. South Africa is so much different from the two aforementioned countries for quite a number of reasons, and it would be very interesting to contrast the developments here with our findings so far. And since I have now established good contacts with a number of locally based colleagues and institutions that are very supportive of this idea, I should really think this matter over seriously. I was offered office space at Stellenbosch University, Sanusha offered her support in getting access to Chinese and also South-Asians in the Kap region, and last not least during our dinner at the Sincere Chinese restaurant last night I have befriended some of the central figures among the new Chinese migrants in Johannesburg.

Johannesburg really seems to be a very vibrant and dynamic place. I think I will have to discuss this issue with Laurence once I am back in Germany. Why should we not extend our field of research when we apply for prolonging our research project by a few months?art

In the afternoon I took part in what some colleagues coined a “beauty contest”. Zhao Suisheng, editor of the journal Contemporary China, Sven Grimm, director of the China Research Center at Stellenbosch, who is about to launch a new scholarly journal on Africa-Asia relations and I myself presented our options for publishing the research presented at this conference. While Suisheng’s journal is attractive due to its inclusion in the Social Science Citation Index, he would not be willing to consider publishing more than three or four of the papers that he regarded as potentially up to quality standards. Sven introduced his institute’s journal that is still in the process of preparation as well as his working paper series as possible venues for quick publication. My argument in promoting our Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, however was the large and diverse readership that we have been able to attract as open access publication, the quick publication process, a transparent selection process and the short time horizon for the publication of up to 8 papers covering various aspects of Chinese migrants’ experiences on the ground in Africa.

In a private conversation Zhao Suisheng revealed to me that he rather often published his own manuscripts in his Journal of Contemporary China. The GIGA policy not to allow any staff member publishing in one of the journals of the GIGA journal family he regarded as “stupid and ridiculous”. I think back at home I will have to bring this issue on the table once again…

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