"Nakofuta mafuta mbila": moving, selling and eating in the Congo Central (DRC)
(Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)
Paper short abstract:
This paper analyzes the relationship between the village, the market and the house through an ethnographic approach of the palm oil trade made by women in Congo Central (DRC). Our discussion is about a kind of economic life based on day to day rhythms and the constant management of uncertainties.
Paper long abstract:
This paper discusses the relationship between the village, the house and the market by tracing palm oil in the Congo Central (DRC). Circulations of food, money and persons promote some integration amid different places and open an opportunity for people to make money and make efforts to manage the uncertainties of their lives. The routinely local displacements of those traders ensure the selling and the provision of food in an environment characterized by food insecurity.
This proposal is based on a field research with women traders in the city of Matadi. The palm oil circuits interconnect some small villages in the forest of Mayombe, where palm oil is produced in an artisanal and sustainable fashion, and medium cities, like Matadi. Our goals are: 1. Analyze women displacements to buy and resell palm oil at the markets, observing what kind of knowledge, relationships and associations this activity depends on; 2. Discuss the interconnection between the market and the house, considering the central role of women in these domains, and the mutual implications of the rhythms of selling, on the one hand, and preparing and consuming collectively, on the other. It is believed that it might be possible to think of palm oil not only as merchandise, but also as a bodily substance, when considering that it has many uses associated to life, to the person and to the body.
Unsteady food in a migrant Africa [Anthropology of Economy Network]