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Gillian Jones Reviews Money from Nothing: Indebtedness and Aspiration in South Africa by Deborah James

Money from Nothing: Indebtedness and Aspiration in South AfricaVerdict: carrot

EXTENDING credit to black South Africans following the advent of democracy in 1994 was meant to assist in abolishing the legacy of apartheid. Instead, it brought hardship to many poor people, who became heavily indebted.

But, at the same time, it helped people improve their lives. Unsecured lending is far more nuanced than is often suggested.

Deborah James, professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics, attempts to unravel the many aspects of SA’s debt burden in her latest book, Money from Nothing: Indebtedness and aspiration in South Africa.

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