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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Economic Action and Social Structure: 'Cambisme' in Kinshasa
Author:De Herdt, Tom
Year:2002
Periodical:Development and Change
Volume:33
Issue:4
Period:September
Pages:683-708
Language:English
Geographic term:Congo (Democratic Republic of)
Subjects:gender relations
foreign exchange
women
Development and Technology
Economics and Trade
Link:https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-7660.00275
Abstract:This paper examines the social structure and partitioning of the market in foreign currency or, as Zairians know it, the sector of 'cambisme', in Kinshasa, Zaire (present-day Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC), based on fieldwork in the mid-1990s. It finds similarities with C. Geertz's 1978 paper on the functioning of peasant markets and his description of the bazaar economy in Sefrou. The 'cambistes' from Kinshasa who were interviewed in 1994/1996 were mainly male - young men and students. The oldest 'cambistes', however, who had started their activities in 1971/1972, were almost exclusively women, directly linked to smuggling networks. They were protected by powerful men, since up to 1990, the foreign currency market in Kinshasa was an illegal one. In the context of new problems in the wake of the liberalization of the exchange rate in 1990, a partitioning of the market was logical. The 'cambistes' began to develop trust relationships with a limited number of 'preneurs' (suppliers of national currency). During the 1990s, a more professional 'cambiste' seems to have emerged. Longer-term associations and quasi enterprises are founded on old boys' networks, neighbourhoods, ethnic clubs, football teams and the like. Eventually this led to the end of the quasi monopoly of free women over the market. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [ASC Leiden abstract]
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