Thursday, May 7, 2009

African mobiles from Chungking: Low-end Globalization

One of the world's fastest growing mobile phone markets is sub-Saharan Africa. But apparently 15% of mobiles that find their way to the continent pass through the Chungking Mansions in Hong Kong.

Anyone who has been to Kowloon knows the foreboding, chaotic presence of Chungking on the Nathan Road. May a backpacker has stayed there - the cheapest, and seediest, accommodation on Hong Kong. And the 1994 classic Chungking Express was of course a worldwide film hit.

This facinating global "grey market" for phones made in China going to Africa has even been tracked by an anthropologist. Professor Gordon Matthews of the Chinese University of Hong Kong has looked at this phenomenon as a case study in what he terms "low-end globalization".

This work can be checked out at:

2008 “Chungking Mansions: A Center of ‘Low-End Globalization.’” Ethnology XLVI (2): 169-183.

(Apologies for lack of a link. Journal web site not up to date at time of posting).

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