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Abstract
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The present paper deals with Chinese transnational sex labour migration in the city of Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon and the country’s major city. Based on ethnographic research conducted in the prostitution milieu of Douala between 2008 and 2012, and on information collected from both scholarly and popular literature, this contribution shows how the development in this African city of what can be called Chinese sexoscapes has induced the reconfiguration of the local geography of commercialised sex work, which for so long was dominated by native sex workers. The paper also demonstrates how many disgruntled Duala sex workers dealt with the so-called Chinese sex invasion of their city by relocating their business to popular entertainment areas commonly characterised in Cameroon as rue de la joie (street of enjoyment). The research argues that this local geography of sexualities has become a site for asserting ethnic, racial or national identity, and especially a space of both inclusion of people profiled as autochthon populations and the exclusion of those branded foreigners.
Abstract
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The present paper deals with Chinese transnational sex labour migration in the city of Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon and the country’s major city. Based on ethnographic research conducted in the prostitution milieu of Douala between 2008 and 2012, and on information collected from both scholarly and popular literature, this contribution shows how the development in this African city of what can be called Chinese sexoscapes has induced the reconfiguration of the local geography of commercialised sex work, which for so long was dominated by native sex workers. The paper also demonstrates how many disgruntled Duala sex workers dealt with the so-called Chinese sex invasion of their city by relocating their business to popular entertainment areas commonly characterised in Cameroon as rue de la joie (street of enjoyment). The research argues that this local geography of sexualities has become a site for asserting ethnic, racial or national identity, and especially a space of both inclusion of people profiled as autochthon populations and the exclusion of those branded foreigners.

Abstract

The expansion of Chinese activities in Africa has been accompanied by a growing number of young Chinese women migrants engaged in prostitution, transforming the red-light districts of some African cities from markets almost entirely monopolized by local sex workers into highly competitive Chinese commercial sexualized sites. In Cameroon, disgruntled local sex workers now point to a ‘Chinese sexual invasion’ and blame young Chinese women for the decline in their business. This article explores some of the remarkable tactics devised by local sex workers in Douala to deal with the ‘unfair competition’ represented by Chinese sex workers. These tactics include the production of extremist discourses that construe Chinese sex workers as economic predators, and characterize them as dangerous putes sorcières (bitch-witches). The article concludes that the pervasive idiom of occultism, embodied by the concepts of “magic body” and “cursed sex” that permeate much of the popular imagination of Chinese sex labourers in Cameroon, reflects a broader disenchantment with recent China–Africa cooperation, which is increasingly perceived as an attempt by China to control Africa’s immense natural resources under the guise of mutually beneficial relations.

Article available for free here.