Mama Benz in Trouble: Networks, the State, and Fashion Wars in the Beninese Textile Market

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This article examines the impact of Chinese textile imports on the organization and politics of women’s textile trading networks in Benin. The incursion of cheap Chinese textiles into markets previously dominated by imported European fabrics has shifted the balance of power between networks of women traders in Benin’s apex textile market, reconfiguring relations between textile traders, state officials and international companies. Focusing on the political as well as the economic dimensions of trading networks that feed regional smuggling systems across West Africa, this 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 textile traders, state officials and global textile exporters.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAfrican Studies Review
Issue number03
Pages (from-to)101-121
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013


  • Mama Benz
  • Benin
  • market women's associations
  • China-Africa
  • Dutch wax
  • trade policy
  • networks

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