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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Mama Benz in trouble: networks, the State, and fashion wars in the Beninese textile market
Author:Prag, EbbeISNI
Periodical:African Studies Review (ISSN 1555-2462)
Geographic term:Benin
women traders
External link:https://doi.org/10.1017/asr.2013.81
Abstract:This article examines the impact of Chinese textile imports on the organization and politics of women's textile trading networks in Benin, notably on the commercial aristocracy of the so-called Mama Benz - 'big women' traders and wholesalers. The incursion of cheap Chinese textiles into markets formerly dominated by imported European 'wax print' fabrics has shifted the balance of power between networks of traders in Benin's textile market, reconfiguring relations between textile traders, State officials, and international companies. The article first looks at the Dutch company Vlisco, one of the leading European companies which produce 'African' textiles, and its linkages to wholesalers and to the political and administrative arenas in Benin, with a focus on the company's competitive strategy. Then follows an analysis of the Boni Yayi government's position and the political networking that takes place between the importers of Chinese wax products and central Beninese authorities. Focusing on political and economic dimensions of trading networks, the article reveals how global linkages transform local economic networks and how local actors structure networks for global economic partners. Far from bypassing State actors, this process is shown to incorporate State officials from above and from below, splintering established trading networks and weaving new ones from emerging configurations of traders, State officials, and global textile exporters. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract, edited]