Wandering Women: The Work of Congolese Transnational Traders

Braun, Lesley Nicole. (2019) Wandering Women: The Work of Congolese Transnational Traders. Africa, 89 (2). pp. 378-396.

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Congolese commerçantes , or transnational women traders, travel abroad to cities such as Guangzhou in search of affordable products to import to Kinshasa. Without any support from local banks, women must search for the means to finance their trips and navigate a complex bureaucracy governed by unpredictable customs tariffs. Just as men rely on their social networks to ensure the success of their business activities, women traders must also forge relationships with people in positions of power. However, a woman's social network, linked to her business activities, invites assumptions about her sexual morality. Men working within the country's unstable economic landscape are celebrated for their ingenuity and ability to 'work the system', while a woman's sexual morality is perceived as being affected by, and bound up in, Kinshasa's corrupt business matrices. Transnational commerçantes are thus not only an important part of the economic milieu, largely governed by patron-client relationships; but are also representative of changing gender dynamics in Kinshasa. Based on multi-site fieldwork in Kinshasa and Guangzhou, this article explores the moral anxieties associated with women's transnational trade, anxieties that relate to broader issues about the politics of social networks within local bureaucratic infrastructures.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
UniBasel Contributors:Braun, Lesley Nicole
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Last Modified:04 Feb 2020 08:35
Deposited On:04 Feb 2020 08:35

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