’Tourist Price’ and Diasporic Visitors: Negotiating the Value of Descent
Marketplace exchange is implicitly both economic and social. Participants in marketplace encounters assemble into multidimensional categories of familiarity and difference, both through the material culture object for sale and through the interaction between vendors and clients within their transactions. This paper brings attention to the latter through microanalysis of one example from a corpus of recorded marketplace interactions of Moroccan diasporic visitors from Europe with marketplace vendors. This example illustrates a repeatedly observed bargaining strategy: to explicitly or implicitly claim the category of ‘a son/daughter of this country’ (weld/bint el-bled) as an argument to lower prices. While vendors did not straightforwardly refute this category of ‘descendant’, they often did respond by introducing other–sometimes seemingly contradictory–categorical differentiations they found relevant to finding a price. This article explores how vendors and diasporic customers negotiate these categories, and how categorization become significant for the emergent value of the goods under negotiation. Through turn-by-turn analysis, I demonstrate how interlocutors engage with ideas of ‘Moroccanness’ beyond ethnonational discourses of belonging, in that ‘doing being Moroccan’ while bargaining becomes a negotiation of being ‘Moroccan’ geographically, socially and economically, as resident in or out of Morocco.
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