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Spatial politics and gendered strategies: women traders and institutions in Oke Arin market, Lagos

  • Nkechi Eke Nwankwo

Abstract

Markets in Lagos, as in other parts of Yorubaland, are discursively constructed as spaces where women are in charge, perhaps based on their numbers. However, this article on the spatial relationships between women traders, the state and market institutions at Oke Arin in Lagos points to women's subordination and reflects Doreen Massey's concept of gendered spaces. Massey explains that spaces are in themselves gendered and that they also reflect and affect how gender is constructed and enforced in a specific context. The study is based on a sample of eighty Lagos (Yoruba) women traders and uses a combination of surveys, in-depth interviews, observation and secondary data to examine gendered strategies for survival and accumulation. I argue that, contrary to the perceptions of powerful Lagos market women, Massey's ‘internal structures of domination and subordination’ are evident in spatial governance, ownership and access at Oke Arin. Therefore, in response to spatial politics and the dominating structures of market and government authorities, women traders devise strategies of resistance, sometimes pushing the boundaries of legality to secure their livelihoods.

À Lagos comme dans d'autres parties du Yorubaland, les marchés se construisent discursivement comme des espaces où les femmes sont aux commandes, peut-être en raison de leur nombre. Cependant, cet article sur les relations spatiales entre les marchandes, l’État et les institutions du marché d'Oke Arin à Lagos suggère une subordination des femmes et renvoie au concept d'espaces genrés de Doreen Massey. Massey explique que les espaces sont en eux-mêmes genrés et aussi qu'ils reflètent et affectent la manière dont le genre se construit et s'applique dans un contexte spécifique. Basée sur un échantillon de quatre-vingt marchandes (yoruba) de Lagos, l’étude examine les stratégies genrées de survie et d'accumulation à travers des enquêtes, des entretiens approfondis, des observations et des données secondaires. L'auteur soutient que, contrairement aux perceptions de femmes fortes sur le marché de Lagos, les « structures internes de domination et de subordination » de Massey sont manifestes dans la gouvernance, la propriété et l'accès à l'espace à Oke Arin. En réponse à la politique spatiale et aux structures dominantes des autorités du marché et de l’État, les marchandes élaborent des stratégies de résistance, parfois en repoussant les limites de la légalité pour protéger leurs moyens de subsistance.

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Africa
  • ISSN: 0001-9720
  • EISSN: 1750-0184
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