SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Jelowski, Alessandro and Thomas, Michael W. (2017) 'Representing 'otherness' in African popular media: Chinese characters in Ethiopian video-films.' Journal of African Cultural Studies, 29 (1). pp. 63-80.

Text - Accepted Version
Download (718kB) | Preview


This article focuses on the recent phenomenon of Ethiopian films that prominently feature Chinese characters. As the success of these films relies on representing a stereotypical Chinese ‘Other’, and in reference to China’s ever-growing presence in African countries, we pose broader questions relating to the place of ethnicity, race and national identity in popular cultural productions emerging from the continent. Through an analysis which caters for multiple and at times oppositional interpretations, we argue that the representation of the ‘Chinese Other’ constructed by these films at times criticizes and at times reasserts existing stereotypes and prejudices. The overriding view and intent of the filmmakers to use Chinese characters mainly as narrative devices is often functional in the development of specific, inward-looking social and political criticisms. But this attitude inevitably forces the films to overlook the key issue underlying discourses about otherness in Ethiopian popular media – namely the issue of how to deal with racial multiplicity in a society that defines belonging along rigid and exclusionary terms.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Arts
ISSN: 13696815
Copyright Statement: © 2016 Journal of African Cultural Studies. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of African Cultural Studies on 21 Oct 2016, available online:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2019 07:43

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item