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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Transforming the region: supermarkets and the local food economy
Author:Abrahams, CarynISNI
Periodical:African Affairs: The Journal of the Royal African Society
Geographic term:Zambia
Subjects:retail trade
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40388449
Abstract:Supermarkets are often seen as marking the transition of food economies from traditional, informal, low-quality markets to more sophisticated, quality-based modes of food retailing. Focusing on Lusaka, Zambia's capital, this article critically assesses the claim that supermarkets 'revolutionize' food economies in Africa. While supermarkets have been successful in expanding their investment reach in Zambia, the article shows that they are not the only players in the food economy, neither are they the most dominant. The article argues for a more critical engagement with supermarkets and their role in urban Africa by drawing attention to contextual changes in the local food economy and factors in the regional political economy that drive/resist the process. It argues that the 'supermarket revolution myopia' sidelines evidence of other potentially transformative processes by which the transition of food economies is made possible, and shows that 'informal' food markets, made up of complex networks of interaction, present a considerable challenge to the claims that supermarkets transform food economies in urban Africa. Transitions in the regulation, governance, and physical infrastructure of these markets suggest that they are progressively more resilient and competitive, despite the growth of supermarkets. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]