- Series: African Issues
- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Indiana University Press; 2nd Paperback Edition edition (July 22, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0253214025
- ISBN-13: 978-0253214027
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,861,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Congo-Paris: Transnational Traders on the Margins of the Law (African Issues) 2nd Paperback Edition Edition
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About the Author
Janet MacGaffey is Professor of Anthropology at Bucknell University, author of Entrepreneurs and Parasites, and coauthor of The Real Economy of Zaire.
Re[acute accent over the e]my Bazenguissa-Ganga teaches at the Centre d'Etudes Africaines, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, and is author of Les Voies du politique au Congo: Essai de sociologie historique.
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While the authors set out to validate the Congolese quest for relief from political and economic hardship at home, the image they present of this loosely-defined community of traders will do nothing for its image abroad. These individuals define themselves through the act of quietly circumventing the rules (particularly import duties and immigration laws), resisting governmental authority without manifesting any visible signs of dissent. This is understandable, given the corrupt and authoritarian Congolese regimes of recent decades. But the transnational traders' ethos of stealthy noncompliance extends to their overseas existence as well, with the result in these Parisian cases being a gamut of criminal activity from smuggling and apartment squatting to drug dealing and theft. "Model immigrants" they are not, regardless of whether their behavior represents a survival strategy. One wonders just how representative this underworld is of the larger community of Congolese living in Paris, and whether those Congolese living more lawful existences there object to being tarred with this brush of illegality.
Such moral qualms aside, I give "Congo-Paris" high marks for its thorough and penetrating analysis of its subjects, a very difficult group to interview given its members' legal status and clandestine activities. No doubt its success owes much to the collaboration between MacGaffey (British) and Bazenguissa (Congolese). The book also skillfully negotiates the difficult and shifting theoretical territory of anthropology to bring outside perspectives to bear on its subjects. Finally, it makes a strong case for redefining anthropology in the context of ongoing processes of globalization. I suspect that we will be seeing a good many more studies like this one in the future.