Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 November 2000
This article examines reciprocal relations among Wolof small farmers in Senegal after the emergence of rural weekly markets (loumas) and the implementation of neoliberal policies in the 1980s. Contrary to the notion that markets are a force of social dissolution, new trading practices and free market policies have not weakened community relations among small farmer neighbours and kin. Rather, the spatial and temporal patterning of loumas has served to strengthen intra-community bonds. Farmers have, since the formation of loumas, limited their travel beyond their home zones. While at loumas they interact avidly with extralocal merchants, they have not allowed outsiders to settle permanently in local villages. Furthermore, because loumas occur only once a week, farmers continue to benefit from daily, multiplex interactions with one another. After analysing the spatial and temporal organisation of loumas, this article looks at specific examples of small farmers augmenting their economic security during a period of economic restructuration by innovating new modes of reciprocal exchange with one another.