Doing Time, Making Money at a Chinese State Firm in Angola
Popular accounts of the expansion of Chinese capital in Africa have presented it as a rapid and exciting process of furious movement and violent transformation. By contrast, fieldwork conducted among employees of a Chinese state-owned construction firm in Luanda, Angola, in 2013–14 reveals repetitive rhythms of monotony and boredom. This essay explores how Chinese migrant workers in Angola experienced their time abroad as work without life, despite spending much of their time every day engaged in non-productive activities. Justifying their deferment of ‘life’ with dreams of what their money would eventually buy in China, and attempting to contrast their own ‘hard work’ against an image of idle Africans or Americans, the Chinese men the author met in Angola were ultimately pretty bored.