Diasporic convergence, sustained transience and indifferent survival : Indian traders in China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
Journal / PublicationHistory and Anthropology
Online published30 Mar 2022
Publication statusOnline published - 30 Mar 2022


This paper analyses the way in which Sindhi traders – one of the largest Indian diasporic populations in Asia – have managed to live and work in China as de facto migrants despite their inability to be granted settled immigration status by the Chinese state. Drawing on long-term fieldwork that started in 2010, the paper offers a China-centric ethnographic perspective on how Indian traders, particularly Sindhis in the Chinese county of Keqiao, have been dealing with the incongruence between immigration policies that largely preclude the possibility of their permanent residency and their long-term entrepreneurial engagement in China. I argue that this incongruence, despite the tensions and uncertainties it continues to generate, has in fact become a crucial factor in stabilizing the diasporic convergence upon Keqiao by Sindhi traders. The eventual consequence is what I call ‘indifferent survival’: that is, the Sindhi traders, a group of non-white foreigners, are managing to stay together and even expand the size of their diasporic community in China despite their vast internal differences in class, local knowledge, and wealth.

Research Area(s)

  • Indian traders, diaspora, China, migration, trade