Postcolonial theorist Frantz Fanon noted in Black Skin, White Masks that the postcolonial subject's nightmares have a time and a place—a socius of the colonial encounter that haunts and recontextualizes the future of the colonized eternally within that shape-shifting nightmare. This article—exploring the English-language-mediated cosmopolitan aspirations of African students in contemporary Beijing—recasts Fanon's observation and explores how dreams of efficacious personhood, like nightmares of compromised subjectivity, imbricate the same spatiotemporal tension between aspirational horizons and their compromised conditions of mediation. In doing so, this article maps a relationship between language, personhood, and space-time: in particular, the persistence of English in Sino-South encounters where signs of Anglocentrism and Englishness become the only available forms of cultural capital for postcolonial actors.

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