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Shea Butter Republic: State Power, Global Markets, and the Making of an Indigenous Commodity
Shea butter (butyrospermin parkii) has been produced and sold by rural West African women and circulated on the world market as a raw material for more than a century. Shea butter has been used for cooking, making soap and candles, leatherworking, dying, as a medical and beauty aid, and most significantly, as a substitute for cocoa butter in chocolate...
Shea butter (butyrospermin parkii) has been produced and sold by rural West African women and circulated on the world market as a raw material for more than a century. Shea butter has been used for cooking, making soap and candles, leatherworking, dying, as a medical and beauty aid, and most significantly, as a substitute for cocoa butter in chocolate production. Now sold in exclusive shops as a high-priced cosmetic and medicinal product, it caters to the desire of cosmopolitan customers worldwide for luxury and exotic self-indulgence. This ethnographic study traces shea from a pre- to post-industrial commodity to provide a deeper understanding of emerging trends in tropical commoditization, consumption, global economic restructuring and rural livelihoods.
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