The end of the railway line: Malian women, mobility and trade in Dakar

Gunvor’s doctoral thesis focusses on the experiences of Malian women in the Senegalese capital (Dakar) who previously deployed the Dakar-Niger Railway and its terminus station in Dakar to facilitate their trade and market their goods.

It examines the impacts of the increasing liberalisation of the Senegalese political economy upon urban space and livelihoods, and upon gender roles and relations.

The analysis revolves around a period of significant spatial and infrastructural transformation in 2009, when the Malian market at the terminus station in Dakar was bulldozed and the passenger train was privatised and subsequently stopped running.

Based on 12 months fieldwork in Dakar, the thesis deploys the novel methodological approach of small-scale multi-sited ethnography to examine how recent urban and infrastructural developments impacted on the Malian women’s networks, livelihoods and place-making.

The thesis focusses on unmarried mature women and female household heads, and examines the relationship between women’s involvement in independent trade and travel, and their financial and social autonomy.

Gunvor’s PhD was funded by a doctoral scholarship from SOAS (University of London). It was awarded the RAI/Sutasoma Award for 2015 by the Royal Anthropological Institute, in recognition of its potentially outstanding merit.