- Special projects (requires login)
Mills 169 (A26)
Monday, August 13, 2018
Available at http://anthro.rschram.org/1002/3.1
This holistic model of a social system is also a very useful lens for understanding contemporary societies. This week, I'd like to develop these three ideas:
For Mauss, the Maori word hau means the “spirit of the thing given.” When someone gives a gift, they give part of themselves. “The hau wishes to return to its birthplace” (Mauss 2000 : 12).
What if we lived in a world in which everything was a gift, and everything possessed a hau?
Many societies organize objects into distinct, ranked spheres of exchange
Some things, like land, cannot be exchanged for anything, but are inherited.
We can take the idea of spheres of exchange and apply it to the different ways people exchange:
Piot describes the relationship among ikpanture (friends).
Gift systems are not static or unchanging. They adapt to contact with colonial power, money, and markets. They do so in different ways.
One way is by quarantining money and market exchange. For instance,
When a society organized on the basis of gifts encounters a globalizing capitalist market, many different outcomes are possible. In the next lecture and next week, we will look at other possible responses:
Bohannan, Paul. 1955. “Some Principles of Exchange and Investment among the Tiv.” American Anthropologist, New Series, 57 (1): 60–70.
Mauss, Marcel. 2000 . The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies. Translated by W. D. Halls. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.