Buying and Believing: Sri Lankan Advertising and Consumers in a Transnational World

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University of Chicago Press, 2001 - Business & Economics - 263 pages
Advertising is a central part of the global system of commerce and culture. Every day it exposes consumers around the world to practices associated with the West, urban life, prosperity, and modernity. One consequence of this exposure is that it frees people's imaginations from time and place, and imposes a new and foreign reality. In this book Steven Kemper looks at a parallel trend, arguing that advertising firms in Nairobi, Caracas, and Colombo also domesticate the imagination, insinuating images into people's minds of the traditional as well as the modern, the local as much as the global.

Drawing upon fieldwork conducted over thirty years, Kemper examines the Sri Lankan advertising industry to show how executives draw on their skills as folk ethnographers to "Sri Lankanize" commodities and practices to make them locally desirable, essentially producing new forms of Sri Lankan culture. Addressing many of the most pressing agendas of contemporary anthropology, Buying and Becoming breaks new ground in studies of culture and globalization.

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Fascinating. This book has a truly unique insight into the mind of a Sri Lankan. One can truly understand how and why they buy and sell, with their magical outlook. Having been alive for 17 years, this book is the only piece of literature that has enabled me to see beyond the fold. I have blossomed as an individual and as an entity in this world of ours. Steven Kemper is true genius in this field and without his work on Sri Lankan advertising the world would not be the same. 


ONE Advertising as a Global Business
TWO Facing the Nation
THREE LocalWays of Being Foreign
FOUR The Sri Lankan Advertising Business
FIVE In the Local Idiom
SIX Banking and Belonging
SEVEN No 37 Sapugaswatte Road
EIGHT The Home and theWorld

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About the author (2001)

Steven Kemper is a professor of anthropology at Bates College. He is the author of numerous journal articles on Sinhala society and Buddhism and of the book, The Presence of the Past: Chronicles, Politics, and Culture in Sinhala Life.

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