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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, 2022. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HKSO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

The Politics of Intimacy

The Politics of Intimacy

(p.65) 3 The Politics of Intimacy
Tales of Hope, Tastes of Bitterness

Miriam Driessen

Hong Kong University Press

Anxieties about the loss of integrity – the quality of having strong moral principles and the state of being undivided – are compounded by the increased intimacy between Chinese foremen and female members of the local community. Sexual relations, in particular, threaten to annul the carefully maintained distance between ‘us’ and ‘them’. Instances of sexual intimacy prompt Chinese managers to define notions of race and racial difference, and to reestablish their reputation as morally upright. What happens at night-time is consequential for the daytime encounters on the construction site. Sexual intimacy filters into management–labor relations and challenges the social distance set up between Chinese management and Ethiopian rank-and-file workers, on which the managerial authority and racial disparities of the corporate hierarchy depend.

Keywords:   Sex, race, ethnicity, reputation, marriage, social distance

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