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West African Students Turned Entrepreneurs In Asian Trading Posts: A New Facet Of Globalization

Abstract : During the last decade, tens of thousands of African migrants have settled in the Asian market-cities, opening their own trading agencies or shipping companies around major wholesale markets to export all kinds of Chinese manufactured goods to sub- Saharan Africa. More recently, an increasing number of students joined this profitable market. Some of them held a Chinese scholarship under a general cooperation program or had completed graduate studies in the People's Republic of China (PRC), while others enrolled in the graduate programs of the Islamic universities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Finally a third set attended European or American universities and began to work in the academic sector before launching into the import-export business. On the basis of fieldwork in Guangzhou, the center of China’s world factory (2006, 2008), and in Dubai, the world re-exportation platform of Chinese products (2009, 2012), this paper explores how some former students, with relatively small economic capital but a solid social and linguistic background, gradually became major intermediaries in the trade of Chinese products to the African continent. The focus is on the skills that they used at the same time to enhance their credibility among their peers, to contract with their suppliers, to interest the local partners, and to convince the local authorities of their ability to represent all the foreign communities with respect to specific legislations. This paper contributes to a better knowledge of the role of these graduate intermediaries in the process of globalization from below, by scrutinizing the lives of these African traders in Guangzhou and Dubai.
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Submitted on : Friday, June 19, 2020 - 12:04:58 PM
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Sylvie Bredeloup. West African Students Turned Entrepreneurs In Asian Trading Posts: A New Facet Of Globalization. Urban anthropology, 2014, 43. ⟨ird-02874930⟩



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