Accepted paper:

'I want to move to the Trading Centre': social and economic possibility in an 'in between' place in Malawi.


Daniel Wroe

Paper short abstract:

Using an ethnographic case study from Malawi this paper explores whether 'trading centres' need to be theorised as spaces distinct from both 'rural' and 'urban'.

Paper long abstract:

Scholarship on migration in Malawi has concentrated on three main dynamics - internal movement between rural areas and major urban centres, internal movement between rural areas and transnational migration. This reflects the focus of research on the rest of Africa. Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Malawi, this paper explores the case of a family's move from a rural village to a small trading centre. Examining the reasons behind the move in detail it suggests that trading centres provide unique social and economic possibilities to those people that live in them. The paper proposes that there is a need to theorise trading centres as distinct spaces of possibility.

panel A01
Provincial challenges: making sense of political cultures in towns and trading centres