Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationForum Transregionale Studien
Grant numberGr. 9226
Approve DateApril 8, 2016
Project TitleBraun, Dr. Lesley N., Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin, Germany - To aid research on 'Braving Borders: Congo's Transnational Trader Women and the Gendered Politics of Social Change'
DR. LESLEY N. BRAUN, Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin, Germany, was awarded funding in April 2016 to aid research on ‘Braving Borders: Congo’s Transnational Trader Women and the Gendered Politics of Social Change.’ In Kinshasa, capital of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a new middle class is emerging with women at the forefront of this social transformation. Among these women are a group referred to as femmes commerÃ§antes, or trader women who embark on international buying expeditions to purchase goods to re-sell in DRC. Currently, China is a common destination, as it offers affordable products, especially electronic goods, ones which yield a good profit margin in Kinshasa. These transnational trader women are not only an important part of a changing economic landscape, but are also representative of changing gender dynamics in Kinshasa and further abroad. As more women are working in the public sphere-in this case, transnational entrepreneurial activities-new questions arise about their social position, and about womanhood in general. The research proposed here constitutes an ethnographic study of trader women who form an important part of a changing economic landscape, one that is increasingly connected to China. This study explores how experiences and perceptions of trader women are indicative of the ways in which economic independence, female virtue, and marginality are intertwined.