Silent citizens and hidden economies: theorising gendered power relations in and about marketplaces in the Pacific

A/Prof. Yvonne Underhill-Sem1, A/Prof Anita Lacey2

1University Of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

2University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia


There has been a recent upsurge in attention given to marketplaces in countries as diverse as Liberia and Papua New Guinea. Mostly this interest manifests itself in new buildings to replace the chaotic, informal and insecure spaces of marketplaces of the distant and contemporary past. Despite the apparent quick wins and photo opportunities that come with new buildings, simplistic technical or infrastructural solutions do not address the gendered power relations which underpin daily marketplace culture (Underhill-Sem et al 2014). These gendered power relations are increasingly recognised in studies that analyse women’s political participation. Building on previous empirical and theoretical work (Lacey and Underhill-Sem 2018), in this paper we assemble our conceptual thinking to allow for women and girl vendors to be understood as economic and political citizens as well as dynamic and opportunistic entrepreneurs.


Associate Professor Yvonne Te Ruki Rangi o Tangaroa Underhill-Sem is a Pacific feminist development geographer teaching Development Studies at University of Auckland. Together with her co-author, Associate Professor Anita Lacey, she has a long-standing interest in markets and gender in the Pacific.

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