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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Chinese products, social mobility and material modernity in Bougouni, a small but fast-growing administrative town of Southwest Mali
Author:Chappatte, André
Periodical:African Studies (ISSN 1469-2872)
Geographic terms:Mali
Subjects:industrial imports
consumer goods
urban population
social mobility
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00020184.2014.887742
Abstract:This article ethnographically explores the consumption of the so-called 'Chinese products', which flooded urban Mali in 2009/10, among the inhabitants of the small but fast-growing administrative town of Bougouni. Going beyond utility theories of consumer behaviour, it initially studies the consumption of goods as central to the process of social mobility and status formation by showing how migrants of rural origin used these Chinese goods to construct an up-to-date urban way of life. Due to their low quality, these products are however denigrated as cheap and short lasting imitations of western products; the article then addresses the ambivalent fact that the consumption of Chinese products, while responding to Malians' aspirations, gives them not more than a second-rate modernity. The second part of the article investigates how urbanites in Mali relate the consumption of Chinese products to discourses on modernity by discussing to what extent the recent flow of Chinese goods into Mali has challenged a modernity based on the consumption of western goods which dates back from the colonial period. It concludes by stressing the discrepancies between China's representations in Mali stemming from its cheap imported goods and the complexity of China's role in global manufacturing. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]