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By David Howes

What does an American fridge suggest within the Solomon Islands?Cross-Cultural intake is an engaging consultant to the cultural implications of the globalization of a shopper society.

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Example text

The cafés are filled with people stirring sugar in their coffee, drinking soft drinks, eating ice cream. The stores are full of people consuming the metaphorical sweetness of VCRs, designer jeans, motorcycles, and other delicacies of consumer culture. After decades of political trauma and financial insecurity the large professional class of the Northwest wants all the material comforts that a stable economy and low-priced imports can give it. Argentine folklore dictates that if you keep a package of sugar in your purse you will never run out of money, for money is sweet in Argentina—dulce plata.

Royal males wore especially fine karosses, often incorporating the pelts of wild beasts, although that of the leopard was reserved for reigning chiefs (Philip 1828, 2:126). The skin cape was to prove extremely durable in this economy of signs, surviving amidst a riot of market innovations to give a distinctive stamp to Tswana ‘folk’ style, where it lived on, in the form of the store-bought blanket, as a crucial element of ‘tribal’ costume. Early accounts suggest that Tswana were especially creative in fashioning new ornaments which seemed to radiate personal identity.

Is it to be wondered then, that in the signifying economy of such ‘modernizing’ processes, ‘native’ women should so often come to embody ‘tradition’—the latter often rooted in a newly nuanced sense of the rural? Made by colonizing forces into pre-modern counterparts of European females, they were set apart from the centres of production and ‘progress’ in devalued, ‘domestic’ enclaves. ) Here they reproduced and represented the ‘tribal’ essence—the cheap labour—that fuelled the economy of empire.

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