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Accepted Paper:

Speaking with Affect – the Significance of Situational Affect in Everyday Sociality among Chinese Migrants in Zambia  
Di Wu (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

This paper illustrates the crucial role that affect plays in communications among Chinese migrants in Zambia. Chinese migrants not only use affect as contextualization cues to interpret each other’s intention but also actively use body and speech to co-produce an affective atmosphere for bonding.

Paper long abstract:

This article illustrates the crucial role that situational affect plays in every interaction among Chinese migrants in Zambia and their communications with local Zambians. Via two ethnographic vignettes – one on banquet and the other on labour management – I unpack the meaning of a repeated phrase, ‘Zambians are difficult to communicate with’, which is widely shared by Chinese migrants. It reveals the social significance of situational affect in Chinese sociality. That is to say, not only do Chinese migrants use situational affect as contextualization cues to interpret each other’s intention, they also actively use bodily movements and speeches to co-produce an affective atmosphere for bonding. It is the dissonance to affect that hinders interactions between Chinese and Zambians. Furthermore, this cultural practice on situational affect could also shed a light on how affect as an analytical concept can be improved in social anthropology.

Panel P055c
Potentialities of Semiotic Landscapes: Language Practices, Materialities and Agency [EASA network on Linguistic Anthropology] III
  Session 1 Thursday 28 July, 2022, -