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Introduction: Foreign imports, local meanings

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Chapter Summary

Throughout the southern parts of Ghana and Nigeria, fading billboards still advertise schnapps gin imported from the Netherlands. Imported gin, along with other imported spirits, and as part a broader popularity of European style and fashion, was used by coastal West African consumers to conspicuously display their knowledge of the ‘foreign’. The mass consumption of foreign imports can be a strategy to overcome alienation and create local identity. In colonial sources that discuss specific instances of the use of gin, which are clearly translated from a discussion in a local language, such as Ewe or Twi, into English, terminology is even more inconsistent and confusing. The term ‘rum’ is used where the drink referred to is clearly a type of Dutch gin. In this chapter, the author reserves the terms (Dutch) schnapps and aromatic schnapps for those gins that were (and are) specifically marketed in West Africa under those names.

Keywords: aromatic schnapps; coastal West African consumers; Dutch gin; European style; foreign imports



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