Accepted paper:

Re-gendering public space: the hybridization of entrepreneurial practices in Accra, Ghana

Authors:

Alena Thiel (Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg)
Michael Stasik (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork on a market and a bus station in central Accra, Ghana, we explore how gendered notions of entitlement to public space are renegotiated under the impact of global capitalist temporality.

Paper long abstract:

It is impossible to understand the gendered relation between women and public space without taking into account its other, that is, male engagements with and in space. Our joint paper contrasts the public spaces of a market and a bus station in central Accra, Ghana. While the former is historically associated with female entrepreneurship, masculinity is deeply inscribed in the activities defining the latter. However, recent developments gradually undermine this gendered divide. Economic liberalization and the subsequent cutback in formal employment opportunities triggered the influx of ever more men into the predominantly female occupation of market trade. Especially, as import procedures have been drastically simplified and access to cheap global consumer goods is democratizing, the role of strong female gatekeepers in the reproduction of the gendered market system becomes increasingly obsolete. Yet, simultaneously, the public space of the bus station adjacent to the market and complementary in many of its economic activities, is increasingly shaped by intensive negotiations between male station personnel and "intruding" female entrepreneurs over the scarce resource "space". Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, we explore how gendered notions of entitlement to public space are renegotiated under the impact of global capitalist temporality.

panel G01
The gendering of public space in the globalized world (IUAES Commission on the Anthropology of Women)