Constructing a New “Contact Zone”: Multi-ethnic encounters in the Chinese-owned Coffee Bars in Bologna, Italy
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AbstractNeighborhood coffee bars, one of the main points of community socializing in Italian urban lives, have been experiencing the process of marginalization and multi-ethnicization. The main clientele is often composed of working-class retired men, internal migrant workers, and transnational immigrants from North Africa, South Asia, and East Europe. Many of these coffee bars have been taken over by the Chinese immigrants since the economic downturn of 2008. Thus, the Chinese-managed coffee bars have become a new “contact zone” for the marginalized groups from a variety of the “Souths”. How do these social actors from the various racial and ethnic backgrounds interact with each other so as to negotiate for a new convivial community? What is the role of Chinese entrepreneurs in the construction of these multi-ethnic social spaces?
Based on 14-months ethnographic fieldwork in Bologna, Italy, this paper will illustrate how the Chinese migrant entrepreneurs socialize with their clients from various sociocultural backgrounds in the routine context of everyday interactions, while pursuing entrepreneurial aspirations. While actively representing Italianness in interactions with local Italians, the Chinese actors often show ambiguous and ambivalent attitudes towards the customers from the Global South. This paper will shed light on how their differential performance, based on ethnic hierarchy, is intersected and negotiated with other positionalities and power dynamics, such as class and gender. This empirical case will further contribute to the current debate on North-South and South-South relations in the context of ever-changing global power relationships.
All Author(s) ListTING DENG
Name of ConferenceThe 116th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association
Start Date of Conference29/11/2017
End Date of Conference03/12/2017
Place of ConferenceWASHINGTON DC
Country/Region of ConferenceUnited States of America
Year2017
LanguagesEnglish-United States
KeywordsMIGRATION, SOCIAL SPACE, ETHNIC ENCOUNTER, CHINESE OVERSEAS, ITALY

Last updated on 2018-09-10 at 16:18