“With original research and creative methods, Murillo makes a substantial contribution to the analysis of military periods of rule and their concrete effects and concerns with regards to local and import/export trade. Moreover, she writes vividly and precisely.”
Gracia Clark, author of African Market Women: Seven Life Stories from Ghana
“This is one of the few, or perhaps the only, comprehensive works on the vital social, economic and cultural history of retail businesses and the ways that they shaped life in a twentieth-century African society. It adds a great deal of texture and richness to the historiography of modern Africa, and challenges and complicates our overall understanding of the structure of colonial and postcolonial society.”
Timothy Burke, author of Lifebuoy Men, Lux Women: Commodification, Consumption and Cleanliness in Modern Zimbabwe
In Market Encounters, Bianca Murillo explores the shifting social terrains that made the buying and selling of goods in modern Ghana possible. Fusing economic and business history with social and cultural history, she traces the evolution of consumerism in the colonial Gold Coast and independent Ghana from the late nineteenth century through the state violence of the 1970s, in a work of depth and interdisciplinary finesse.
Murillo brings shop floor sales clerks, market women, and everyday consumers in Ghana to the center of a story that is all too often told in sweeping metanarratives about what happens to Africans when they are incorporated into global markets. In foregrounding people over objects, Market Encounters is a refreshing departure from the conventional focus on the social meaning of things.
By emphasizing the centrality of human relationships to Ghana’s economic past, Murillo introduces a radical rethinking of consumption studies from an African-centered perspective. The result is a keen look at colonial capitalism in all of its intricacies, legacies, and contradictions, including its entanglement with gender and race.
Bianca Murillo is Associate Professor of History at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Her work has appeared in Africa, Gender & History, and Enterprise and Society.
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