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Baskets, stalls and shops: experiences and strategies of women in retail sales in nineteenth-century Luanda


Year published: 2020
Categories: Articles

Author / Authors:

  • Vanessa S. Oliveir


Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue canadienne des études africaines, DOI: 10.1080/00083968.2020.1749679


Luanda, the capital of Portuguese Angola, had a majority female population in the mid-nineteenth century. By 1850, the port town had experienced a “demographic explosion” reaching 12,565 individuals, 57% of whom were women. The foodstuffs that fed the population came from the interior and circulated via the baskets, stalls and shops of street vendors and shopkeepers. As in other Atlantic ports, women represented the majority of retail sellers in the Angolan capital, where they peddled on streets and in markets and owned shops. Drawing upon the documentation of the Municipal Council, this study examines experiences and strategies of women in retail sales in mid-nineteenth-century Luanda. Despite their importance in supplying the population of this urban landscape, retail sellers became a target of Portuguese policies aiming to sanitize overseas territories and “civilize” their inhabitants.


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