Things Change: Black Material Culture and the Development of a Consumer Society in South Africa, 1800-2020

Since the early nineteenth century, the things which Black South Africans have had in their homes have changed completely. They have adopted things like tables, chairs, knives, forks, spoons, plates, cups and saucers, iron pots, beds, blankets, European clothing, and later electronic apparatus. Thus they claimed modernity, respectability and political inclusion. This book by Robert Ross is the first systematic analysis of this development. It argues that the desire to possess such goods formed a major part of the drive behind the anti-apartheid struggle, and that the demand to consume has significantly influenced both the economy and the politics of the country.

This book has appeared in the Afrika-Studiecentrum Series as volume 43.

Read an interview with Robert Ross about his book in NRC (in Dutch).



Author(s) / editor(s)

Robert Ross

About the author(s) / editor(s)

Robert Ross has retired as Professor of African History at Leiden University. He has authored and edited many books and articles, notable The Cambridge History of South Africa.

Full text, catalogue, and publisher website