chapter  14
16 Pages

Ivory trails

Divergent values of ivory and elephants in Africa and Asia
WithStephanie Rupp

This chapter contributes an analysis of ivory and elephants in Africa and Asia relations and reflections on how China and Africa can be studied in ways capable of properly engaging and capturing the dynamic, transcaler complexity such relations can have. Drawing on fieldwork in the Congo River basin and Thailand, it examines the overlapping systems and values involved in the international ivory trade and, based on this, provides a potentially transferable method and analytical framework. It argues scholarship should break away from the insistence to see not only “China” and “Africa” as binary political, economic, or social units of analysis, but also to consider the salient geo-ecological and diasporic contexts of the particular commodity or resource under consideration; to place China–Africa research into historical context of the longue durée, which may involve moving beyond “China” and “Africa” as we think of them in contemporary discourse and scholarship; and to consider economic relations between “China” and “Africa” in terms of overlapping and coincidental economic spheres of exchange based on reciprocal, redistributive, and market dynamics of value.