Straßenhandel mit Souvenirs im Senegal: Akteure, Arbeit und Organisation

Researcher:

Dr. Georg Materna

Research Area:

A


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Tourists debarking in Senegal quickly encounter small tourism entrepreneurs who are commonly called antiquaires, kolo-kolo, bana-bana, guides clandestins or racouleurs. These people propose buying different kinds of souvenirs; they offer “informally” organised expeditions or just try appeal to the visitor’s pity in order to get financial support. Their work-places are highly frequented streets, various tourism related spaces, small shops or crafts-villages. They seem to be at every Senegalese sight and tourism hot spot and have become, at least according to official sources, a serious threat for further tourism development. However, even if their presence seems to be ubiquitous, they are rarely focused in tourism related studies and also neglected by economists who usually emphasize financially sound players. Thus, who are these people? How has their business developed? How do they organise? Where to place them in the tourism system?

 

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The actual research focuses on the milieu of the small tourism entrepreneurs in places like Saint-Louis, Dakar and Mbour/Saly. Starting with a description of the milieu’s development since the 1970s and its current situation, I am focusing on people and groups working as small entrepreneurs in the tourism sector. In particular, my research seeks to explore the socio-professional organisation and daily work strategies of these people. I concentrate on the relations that the small entrepreneurs entertain within their milieu but also with actors of the state and the tourism industry itself.

 

 

 

 

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To give some examples of the described socio-professional field: there are craftsmen like the traditionally endogamous living group of the loabé who had dominated the souvenir business until the 1990s and who still hold a major stake in it; there are migrants who are commonly called aventuriers, some of them gather in groups and work as service sellers, others try to get along individually as brokers; and there are also Senegalese locals who came only recently to tourism and work as guides clandestins or petty traders. All these people differ in regard to social organisation, profession, local rooting and integration into the tourism industry. Next to a thick ethnographical description of the small entrepreneurs’ work and their (inter-)relations, I aim at foreshadowing a theoretical framework that integrates the often-neglected twilight workers on the fringe of the “tourist bubble” into the theory of the tourism system.