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Transient trade and the distribution of infrastructural knowledge: Bolivians in China

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This article deals with transient migration of Bolivian traders and grassroots entrepreneurs to China. I trace prior experiences of traders with Asian and Chinese agents in South America to understand current transregional connections, and persistent trading practices and rationales. A growing conviction among Bolivians to travel to China and buy first-hand from factories in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Yiwu and Shanghai on the one hand, and a cautious handling of information and contacts among them on the other, have stimulated the emergence of commercial intermediaries. Very few of the Bolivian brokers, however, have settled down in China. The trade has remained highly transient with about 6,000 Bolivian traders and agents commuting each year back and forth to China. I explore the sources and effects of this transient trade, in particular the distribution of knowledge about infrastructure, technical and legal procedures to spur the inter-continental flow of goods.

Keywords: Bolivia; China; Latin America; brokers; infrastructure; knowledge; mobility; trading networks

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Munich (LMU)

Publication date: March 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Transient migration due to the global movements of people for work, study and lifestyle is part of everyday life. This journal thus aims to provide a platform that explores and investigates the complexities of transient migration and to map the experiences of the growing number of transient migrants as they engage and interact with communities that are linked both to their home and host nations. This journal seeks to look at the ways in which transient migrants cope with transience and how transient migration affects individuals and communities in this transitional yet significant period. The scope of the journal will include but not be limited to themes of belonging, identity, networks, nation, culture, religion, race and ethnicity, gender and memory while incorporating the roles played by various platforms to facilitate these themes such as media, politics, policy, economy and the creative industries.
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