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.