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.