From Guest Traders to Live Streamers

Hospitality and Technology in Yunnan’s Gemstone Market

in Social Analysis
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  • 1 Freigeist Fellow and Project Director, Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, LMU Munich, Germany and Associate Professor, Chinese Studies, Tallinn University, Estonia alessandro.rippa@rcc.lmu.de

This article seeks to deepen our understanding of how markets are constituted and organized by foregrounding an anthropological focus on hospitality. Drawing on ethnographic insights from the gemstone market in China’s Yunnan province, I argue that the use of online retail platforms has radically transformed social relations among traders, retailers, and customers. Despite such changes, and the seeming demise of ‘hosting’ as a central aspect of trading practices, hospitality remains critical to how business transactions are conducted. In particular, I demonstrate that hosting is highly productive of attachments between traders and customers, as well as certain places and products. The article concludes that hospitality is located in—and an essential element of—the ‘market’.

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

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