Society for Economic Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
While living in the rural village of Tamarou, Benin, the author observed several changes in physical and cultural landscapes. State-owned and private Chinese businesses transformed the local lumber yards and the availability of products in local informal shops. In reaction, policies arose to oppose the exploitation of natural resources and the degradation of the environment. Africans from Benin and the surrounding countries presented several outlooks on investment initiatives and trade with China that celebrated or questioned the friendship the country and its companies have formed with the continent of Africa. For some, trade opportunities with Chinese companies offered a new way of seeing one‘s self and their power to engage in economic opportunities. Through ethnographic data collected between 2015 and 2017 through formal and informal interviews, the author connects local economic strategies created in reaction to policy changes to the investment relationship China has formed with rural communities in West Africa. This paper is an engagement with the larger dialectic on the relationship between China and Africa through economic trade and investment.