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Chinese Devils? Perceptions of the Chinese in Lom's Central Market

By Nina Sylvanus


As China-Africa trade relations are intensifying so are critical African voices that question the real nature of Chinas trade engagement opposing Chinas official discourse, which intends to present an alternative to the West. Trade unions and business associations are increasingly calling for governmental intervention to limit and regulate the scope of Chinas dumping strategies, particularly with regard to textiles. Africa appears as the real loser in the global textile struggle, a view frequently portrayed in African and Western media reports, and illustrated in the drastic lay-offs of textile workers and the closing of manufacturing units throughout sub-Saharan Africa. While the textile sector has been a major interest of media investigation, entrept states and their trade communities have sparked less attention. Drawing on recent ethnographic research in Togo, a significant hub for West African trade, this paper will focus on two interrelated aspects. First, it will examine the role of local traders in shaping these China textile trade relationships - Chinese textile networks of so-called African prints then, it will analyze the varying reactions of Togolese textile traders to the recent appearance and intensification of Chinese-produced copies of African prints.



Bio: Nina Sylvanus holds a Ph.D in Anthropology from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. She is currently a post-doctoral fellow at UCLAs International Institute where she is working on a book project entitled "The Fabric of Globality: West African Women in the World Commodity Trade." She has published several papers in French journals, including Les Temps Modernes, and has an article forthcoming in Anthropological Theory (vol 7, 2) and a book chapter in Globalization and Transformation of Local Socio-Economic Practices (U. Schuerkens, eds. London: Routledge).

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