"This is the first comprehensive survey of the Chinese experiences in Africa [to early twentieth century]. Drawing on archival materials and personal interviews as well as secondary literature, Li Anshan of Peking University sheds new light on the history of a group of Chinese long ignored in the study of the Chinese diaspora. The result is a work fascinating in its detail….The study is a welcome addition to the literature of immigration history, providing enough tantalizing information to fuel a great deal of future scholarship.”
—African Studies Review
A History of Overseas Chinese in Africa to 1911 explores early Chinese knowledge of and contacts with Africa through Chinese literature on Africa and current archeological evidence, suggesting Sino-African trade existed as early as the seventh century. Li provides readers with an uncomplicated history of Chinese in Africa, examining their story from multiple perspectives, using approaches and sources found in economic history, social history, international relations, and migration in world history. While Li maintains the first group of Chinese were prisoners brought by the Dutch from Southeast Asia in the seventeenth century, the vast majority of early Chinese in Africa were “free immigrants” and contract labors that established key communities and organizations. It is these early Chinese which laid foundations for and provide important context in interpreting the recent flow of Chinese migrants and capital into various parts of Africa.The book should be of value to African and world historians, sociologists, anthropologists, and students of African and Asian studies.