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Diamonds, Dollars and Dynasties. A West African Muslim Trade Diaspora in Angola’s Boom Economy

Dr Paolo Gaibazzi

After the end of the long civil war in 2002, Angola has undergone rapid economic growth and social change. Oil and diamond exports have fuelled a commercial bonanza, attracting investors from across the world, including experienced traders from West Africa. Building on previous research on longstanding commercial dynasties in the Gambia valley, this project aims to understand how the legacy of West African Muslim trade mediates migrant traders’ insertion in Angola’s globalised market economy and volatile socio-political situation, as well as in worldwide commercial circuits and diasporic networks. It pays attention to the institutional, social and cultural practices that enable Gambian traders to produce and regulate the mobility of people, goods and capital in order to (re)produce success. Far from solelyconsidering material aspects of trade migration, the project also explores diaspora-making as a socio-cultural laboratory, in particular capturing whether and how traders respond and appropriate the proliferating narratives of progress and discontent surrounding Angola’s boom economy.