Liang Xu is Assistant Professor at the Peking University School of International Studies and Secretary-General of the Peking University Center for African Studies. Liang’s research interests include Chinese diaspora in Africa, social and gender history of Africa, the political economy of African development, and international relations. Liang has a PhD in African History from Harvard University (2010–2017). Liang received his Bachelor of Arts in International Relations in 2005 from Peking University, where he also completed his first doctorate in International Relations in 2010. Liang’s dissertation project at Harvard examined the history of labor-intensive industrialization in South Africa’s former border areas with a particular focus on ethnic Chinese garment factories and Zulu women workers. It is titled “On the Edge of Capitalism: African Local States, Chinese Family Firms, and the Transformation of Industrial Labor.” Over the years, Liang’s research has been funded by various Harvard University grants, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the French National Research Agency (ANR), the Government of Ghana, the Japan Sasakawa Peace Foundation, and the South African Millennium Trust.
「 Factory, Family, and Industrial Frontier: A Socioeconomic Study of Chinese Clothing Firms in Newcastle, South Africa 」
This paper examines ethnic Chinese garment production and Zulu women workers in Newcastle, South Africa – a former border town between white South Africa and the black KwaZulu homeland that had been economically important for its coal and steel production since the 1960s. The “Asian Strategy” adopted by the Newcastle Town Council in the early 1980s transformed the town into a prominent site of low-wage, labor-intensive, and female-oriented light manufacturing. The established scholarship, while providing useful explanations for the arrival of ethnic Chinese clothing factories and offering valid critiques of South Africa’s industrial policies, pays little attention either to Chinese business practices or their long-term impact on Zulu women workers’ lives. This paper highlights the ways in which capitalist production transplants, adapts, and refashions its material and cultural forms on the frontier. It argues that in response to harsh business and socioeconomic conditions, both the ethnic Chinese industrialists and Zulu women workers have creatively utilized and reshaped existing familial arrangements to maximize business efficiencies and maintain stability as a workforce and that Chinese industrialists and Zulu women are not passive products but active shapers of the industrial frontier.