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Tales of Hope, Tastes of BitternessChinese Road Builders in Ethiopia$
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Miriam Driessen

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9789888528042

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888528042.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM HONG KONG SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hongkong.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hong Kong University Press, 2020. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HKSO for personal use.date: 26 May 2020

Preserving Purity

Preserving Purity

Chapter:
(p.45) 2 Preserving Purity
Source:
Tales of Hope, Tastes of Bitterness
Author(s):

Miriam Driessen

Publisher:
Hong Kong University Press
DOI:10.5790/hongkong/9789888528042.003.0003

The bitter taste experienced by Chinese road builders arises not only from the challenges they face in their encounters with Ethiopians, but also from a chasm between a dominant rhetoric of unity and solidarity, and an underlying concern with the reality of social divisions. Straddling ethnic boundaries by sharing food with Ethiopians and gaining fluency in Amharic, some Chinese foremen threaten to close the distance to the other and, by extension, the boundaries between the knowledgeable and the ignorant, and the managers and the managed. The preservation of purity plays a central role in Chinese engagement with the other. Indeed, self-control is a prerequisite for the control of Ethiopian others. The disciplining of Chinese colleagues through the cultivation of restraint and reticence is closely linked to the project of disciplining Ethiopian laborers.

Keywords:   Social divisions, stratification, construction, self-control, reputation, enterprises

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