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Title: Global fabric bazaar : an Indian trading economy in a Chinese county
Author: Cheuk, Ka-Kin
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 2015
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis is primarily based on ethnographic fieldwork that lasted fifteen months, between 2010 and 2012, in Keqiao, a municipal county in eastern Zhejiang Province, China. Despite its inferior administrative status and rather inland location, Keqiao is China's trading frontier for fabrics, which are the semifinished textiles that are industrially weaved, knitted, dyed, and printed in bulk before being exported. Contributing to the turnover of more than one-third of all fabric produced in China, the county's fabric wholesale market is not only the mainstay of Keqiao's economy. It is also the world's centre for fabric supplies, and where around 10,000 Indians have flocked to start their intermediary trading businesses. The major aim of this thesis is to examine the everyday encounters between Indians and Chinese in the local fabric market. It begins by exploring how Keqiao emerged as the global distribution centre for a wide variety of cheap fabrics. It also shows how Keqiao becomes characterized by the growing importance of low-end fabric sales and the influx of Indian traders, who specialize in exporting these fabrics. The thesis then describes the encounters between Indians and local Chinese in the fabric market, addressing the challenges and difficulties that these Indians, especially the newcomers, confront when dealing with the Chinese suppliers. Focusing on novice traders, the thesis turns to investigate the internal dynamics of Indian trading companies. Remarkably, novice Indian traders successfully learn several strategies to counteract their precarious position in the workplace. These strategies leverage the accumulation of work experience and expanding social networks. These insights bring the thesis to chapters that highlight other strategies, particularly those created from encounters between Indian traders and Chinese clerks, as well as those between Indian traders and Chinese salespersons. Taken together, this thesis illustrates how transnational and local actors team up to create their own, locally based, intermediary economy within a small Chinese county, and how such a collaborative economy, which I term a 'global fabric bazaar', sustains these actors. Without this collaborative economy, these players would otherwise be vulnerable within the fabric wholesale industry because this supply chain is increasingly polarized and weakened by today's global capitalism.
Supervisor: Banks, Marcus ; Xiang, Biao Sponsor: Swire Cathay Pacific Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: International rade ; Transnationalism ; China--Relations--India ; Globalization ; Ethnology ; Textile industry--China ; India--Emigration and immigration ; Social and cultural anthropology