Everyday Diplomacy among Indian Traders in a Chinese Fabric Market

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
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  • 1 Leiden University k.k.cheuk@hum.leidenuniv.nl
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Through an ethnographic study of Indian traders in Keqiao, a municipal Chinese district in Zhejiang Province where China’s largest fabric trade market is located, this article seeks to unpack the ways in which negative stereotypes of Indian traders in China have been historically sustained, culturally represented and, to a significant degree, socially tolerated and justified in a local Chinese market. By invoking the notion of ‘everyday diplomacy’, it illustrates the ways in which the diplomatic capabilities of the Indian traders – a group often denounced in the city for having questionable business ethics – are incorporated into the commonly-held ‘evil Indian’ image. It also considers why, despite such condemnation, these Indians continue to be recognized, albeit reluctantly, as potential business partners by most Chinese suppliers in Keqiao.

Contributor Notes

Ka-Kin Cheuk is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS), where he is part of an interdisciplinary research project, ‘Immigration and the Transformation of Chinese Society’ (2015–2018). He completed his DPhil in Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford University, where he was also affiliated to the ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS).

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