The Chinese Lingerie Dealers of Upper Egypt

The Chinese Lingerie Dealers of Upper Egypt

Peter Hessler - Staff Writer, The New Yorker

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - 4:00pm to 6:00pm
Room 102, Linsly-Chittenden Hall See map
63 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

While travelling in remote Upper Egypt, the most conservative and least developed part of the country, Peter Hessler stumbled upon a Chinese merchant selling lingerie to locals. Soon he realized that there were Chinese lingerie dealers scattered in towns throughout Egypt, and he spent two years tracking them down and observing their daily routines. He learned about their unexpected paths from China to the Nile, and also about how they had discovered this unique product niche. 

Hessler’s investigation also took him to a Chinese development zone in the desert near the Red Sea, where a state-owned enterprise was attempting to apply China’s economic model to the Middle East. Hessler’s research focused on issues of development, trade, gender, cross-cultural exchange, and faith, on the far northern edge of a continent that is now home to an estimated one million Chinese migrants.

Peter Hessler first went to live in China in 1996, as a Peace Corps volunteer. For two years, he taught English and studied Chinese in the small Yangtze River city of Fuling. His first book, River Town, described this experience.

After the Peace Corps, Hessler remained in China as a journalist, eventually becoming the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker. He eventually completed a trilogy of nonfiction books about the decade that he spent in the country. Following River Town, the other two books in the series are Oracle Bones and Country Driving. He also published a collection of essays, Strange Stones.

In 2011, Hessler and his family moved to Cairo, where he studied Arabic and became the Egypt correspondent for The New Yorker. His subjects ranged from archaeology to Cairo garbage collection to Chinese migrants to the events of the Egyptian Arab Spring. His new book, The Buried: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution, will be published in May.