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THE MARKET The hallmarks of many urban as well as rural settlements 54  are the marketplaces. Market trading is a complex social phenomenon. At the market, commodities pass through different economic spheres: gift-economies, kinship-based negotiations and formalized monetary exchanges. Aside from different exchange economies, the markets also function as sites of dynamic identity formation, for example in relation to ethnicity and gender. Particularly in weak economies, there is a rise in males entering traditional female occupancies, such as cooking and weaving, which is gradually affecting the gender specification of labor division outside the markets. With the arrival of European colonial powers from the 16th century and onwards, numerous African tribes were brought together in the large coastal cities where they were later exposed to the influence of Arab labor migrants, who settled and set up their shops among local peoples. The presence of global powers are widely felt at local markets across the continent. Until the mid-1970s, European colonial regimes influenced the financial transactions. Most recently, the growing number of Chinese settlers has affected the economic and social coherence of markets. As with the Arabs, the Chinese establish shops in the market places among locals, thus contributing to the increase of these huge economies.   Morten Nielsen Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation / Switzerland CENTRAL MARKET, KOUDOUGOU, BURKINA FASO, 2005


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