Yu Qiu

Yu Qiu’s research interests lie in the emotional, affective and intimate dimension of China-Africa interactions, the constructions and (mal)implementations of friendship politics in China’s socioeconomic and political relation with Africa, and social transformations of gender relations, families, and racial and national identities in contemporary China, as the results of these affective interactions.

Trained as a social anthropologist at the University of Cambridge, Yu takes an interdisciplinary approach to unpacking the private and intimate life of the Nigerian traders in Guangzhou (China), a city nicked named ‘Chocolate City’, which saw an increase of African migration in the late 2000s and the early 2010s. The findings are documented in her Ph.D. thesis, which she pays particular attention to the cultural and social logic behind the establishment of intimate/business partnerships between the Nigerian traders (mainly male traders) and the Chinese (mostly female migrants from the less developed areas of China). Besides, she explores the rich and diverse practices of what she terms ‘complicit intimacy’ in people’s way of navigating a better and promising future. In the past years, she has been doing ethnographic fieldwork in Guangzhou (China), Lagos (Nigeria) and Yiwu (China). Her doctoral research is kindly funded by the Cambridge Overseas Trust scholarship, the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, Smuts Memorial Fund, Sir Robbie Jennings Fund (Jesus College, Cambridge) and Jesus College Doctoral Research Fund.

Besides, she has co-directed a 60-mins ethnographic documentary, Rase’s Choice, a side project derived from her doctoral fieldwork. This documentary (in post-production) bridges the scholarly discussion with a broader public and encourages more debates on racial identities, social justice and tolerance in contemporary Asia-Africa interactions.

During her IIAS-ASC post-doctoral fellowship at Leiden University, Yu Qiu is revising her doctoral thesis and turning it into a book manuscript, which is tentatively entitled ‘Complicit Intimacy: a study of Nigerian-Chinese intimate/business partnerships in South China’. This research project sheds light on the ambiguous, unstable and emotion-charged private dimension of the China-Africa connections, and teases out the contradictions and ironies in the course of the Africans, seen as ‘the friends of China’ by the Chinese authorities, becoming ‘the kin of China.’

Yu Qiu's fellowship is sponsored by LeidenASA.

Fellowship year: 
Y. (Yu) Qiu
Former visiting fellow