The myths of the Gimi, a people of the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, attribute the origin of death and misery to the incestuous desires of the first woman or man, as if one sex or the other were guilty of the very first misdeed. Working for years among the Gimi, speaking their language, anthropologist Gillian Gillison gained rare insight into these myths and their pervasive influence in the organization of social life. Hers is a fascinating account of relations between the sexes and the role of myth in the transition between unconscious fantasy and cultural forms.
Gillison shows how the themes expressed in Gimi myths—especially sexual hostility and an obsession with menstrual blood—are dramatized in the elaborate public rituals that accompany marriage, death, and other life crises. The separate myths of Gimi women and men seem to speak to one another, to protest, alter, and enlarge upon myths of the other sex. The sexes cast blame in the veiled imagery of myth and then play out their debate in joint rituals, cooperating in shows of conflict and resolution that leave men undefeated and accord women the greater blame for misfortune.
A clash of cultures on the North American continent.
With a focus on indigenous cultural systems and agency theory, this volume analyzes Contact Period relations between North American Middle Atlantic Algonquian Indians and the Spanish Jesuits at Ajacan (1570–72) and English settlers at Roanoke Island (1584–90) and Jamestown Island (1607–12). It is an anthropological and ethnohistorical study of how European violations of Algonquian gift-exchange systems led to intercultural strife during the late 1500s and early 1600s, destroying Ajacan and Roanoke, and nearly destroying Jamestown.
The Enigma of the Gift
Maurice Godelier University of Chicago Press, 1998 Library of Congress GN449.8.G6313 1999 | Dewey Decimal 394
When we think of giving gifts, we think of exchanging objects that carry with them economic or symbolic value. But is every valuable thing a potentially exchangeable item, whose value can be transferred? In The Enigma of the Gift, the distinguished French anthropologist Maurice Godelier reassesses the significance of gifts in social life by focusing on sacred objects, which are never exchanged despite the value they possess.
Beginning with an analysis of the seminal work of Marcel Mauss and Claude Lévi-Strass, and drawing on his own fieldwork in Melanesia, Godelier argues that traditional theories are flawed because they consider only exchangeable gifts. By explaining gift-giving in terms of sacred objects and the authoritative conferral of power associated with them, Godelier challenges both recent and traditional theories of gift-giving, provocatively refreshing a traditional debate.
Elegantly translated by Nora Scott, The Enigma of the Gift is at once a major theoretical contribution and an essential guide to the history of the theory of the gift.
This new edition of the critically acclaimed The Fame of Gawa—originally published in 1986—makes available for the first time this important work in paperback. The Fame of Gawa is concerned with fundamental practices of value creation on Gawa, a small island off the southeast coast of mainland Papua New Guinea, the inhabitants of which participate in the long-distance kula shell exchange ring. Integrating various aspects of the study of society and culture--including the sociocultural construction of space and time, self-other relations and the body, and moral and political problems of hierarchy and equality—Nancy D. Munn shows that it is through achieving fame in the wider inter-island world that the Gawan community asserts its own internal viablity.
Gift Giving brings together 21 scholars from a variety of disciplines—including consumer behavior, communications, and sociology—who are dedicated to the understanding of what motivates gift selection, presentation, and incorporation of a gift into a person's life.
Must a gift be given freely? How can we tell a gift from a bribe? Are gifts always a part of human relations—or do they lose their power and importance once the market takes hold and puts a price on every exchange? These questions are central to our sense of social relations past and present, and they are at the heart of this book by one of our most interesting and renowned historians.
In a wide-ranging look at gift giving in early modern France, Natalie Zemon Davis reveals the ways that gift exchange is crucial to understanding alliance and conflict in family life, economic relations, politics, and religion. Moving from the king’s bounty to the beggar’s alms, her book explores the modes and meanings of gift giving in every corner of sixteenth-century French society. In doing so, it arrives at a new way of considering gifts—what Davis calls "the gift register"—as a permanent feature of social relations over time. Gift giving, with its own justifications and forms in different periods, can create amity or lead to quarrels and trouble. It mixes the voluntary and the obligatory, with interested bribery at one extreme and inspired gratuitousness at the other.
Examining gifts both ethnographically (through archives, letters, and other texts) and culturally (through literary, ethical, and religious sources), Davis shows how coercive features in family life and politics, rather than competition from the market, disrupted the gift system. This intriguing book suggests that examining the significance of gifts can not only help us to understand social relations in the past, but teach us to deal graciously with each other in the present.
Whether they involved goods, words, or ideas, acts of giving and trading were fundamental in early Indian-white contacts. But how did these transactions function across the two cultures, and what did they mean to each? In this book, David Murray explores a range of early exchanges between Europeans and Indians, showing how they operated within a set of interlocking economies—linguistic, religious, as well as material. Murray begins by examining the crucial role of gift-giving. Like the double function of the key, which both locks and unlocks, the gift—with its simultaneous action of offering something and demanding a return—expressed the paradoxical nature of early Indian-white encounters. Because the power to give was associated with ideas of sovereignty, both sides often preferred to represent exchanges as gift-giving rather than trading or selling. To illustrate the complexities of these cross-cultural transactions, the author looks closely at the work of linguist, trader, and missionary Roger Williams, whose A Key into the Language of America at once serves the purposes of translation, conversion, and trade. Murray also examines the changing meaning and representation of wampum, the quintessential medium of exchange in the early colonial period, as well as the multiple processes of conversion taking place as Christian ideas were incorporated into Indian cultures. According to the author, only by recognizing the ways in which objects and ideas circulated and took on value in interrelated economies can we understand the contested "middle ground" between Europeans and Indians of the colonial Northeast.
Masculinity, Motherhood, and Mockery analyzes the relationship between masculinity and motherhood in an Eastern Iatmul village along the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea. It focuses on a metaphorical dialogue between two countervailing images of the body, dubbed by literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin as the "moral" and the "grotesque." Eastern Iatmul men in Tambunum village idealize an image of motherhood that is nurturing, sheltering, cleansing, fertile, and chaste--in a word, moral. But men also fear an equally compelling image of motherhood that is defiling, dangerous, orificial, aggressive, and carnal--hence, grotesque. Masculinity in Tambunum is a rejoinder both subtle and strident, both muted and impassioned, to these contrary, embodied images of motherhood.
Throughout this work, Eric Silverman details the dialogics of mothering and manhood throughout Eastern Iatmul culture, including in his analysis cosmology and myth; food- and childraising; architecture and canoes; ethnophysiology and sexuality; shame and hygiene; marriage and kinship; and perhaps most significantly, a ceremonial locus classicus in anthropology: the famous Iatmul naven rite. This book provides the first sustained examination of naven since Bateson, presenting new data and interpretations that are based entirely on original, first-hand ethnographic research.
The sustained engagement with anthropological and psychoanalytic theory coupled with a refreshing examination of a famous and still-enigmatic ritual is sure to make multiple contributions to pressing debates in contemporary anthropology and social theory.
Eric Silverman is Associate Professor of Anthropology, DePauw University.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca University of Chicago Press, 2011 Library of Congress PA6661.D213 2011 | Dewey Decimal 177.7
Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BCE–65 CE) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, dramatist, statesman, and advisor to the emperor Nero, all during the Silver Age of Latin literature. The Complete Works of Lucius Annaeus Seneca is a fresh and compelling series of new English-language translations of his works in eight accessible volumes. Edited by world-renowned classicists Elizabeth Asmis, Shadi Bartsch, and Martha C. Nussbaum, this engaging collection restores Seneca—whose works have been highly praised by modern authors from Desiderius Erasmus to Ralph Waldo Emerson—to his rightful place among the classical writers most widely studied in the humanities.
On Benefits, written between 56 and 64 CE, is a treatise addressed to Seneca’s close friend Aebutius Liberalis. The longest of Seneca’s works dealing with a single subject—how to give and receive benefits and how to express gratitude appropriately—On Benefits is the only complete work on what we now call “gift exchange” to survive from antiquity. Benefits were of great personal significance to Seneca, who remarked in one of his later letters that philosophy teaches, above all else, to owe and repay benefits well.
The Poison in the Gift is a detailed ethnography of gift-giving in a North Indian village that powerfully demonstrates a new theoretical interpretation of caste. Introducing the concept of ritual centrality, Raheja shows that the position of the dominant landholding caste in the village is grounded in a central-peripheral configuration of castes rather than a hierarchical ordering. She advances a view of caste as semiotically constituted of contextually shifting sets of meanings, rather than one overarching ideological feature. This new understanding undermines the controversial interpretation advanced by Louis Dumont in his 1966 book, Homo Hierarchicus, in which he proposed a disjunction between the ideology of hierarchy based on the "purity" of the Brahman priest and the "temporal power" of the dominant caste or the king.
A unique dataset for studying past social interactions comes from Swift Creek Complicated Stamped pottery that linked sites throughout much of the Eastern Woodlands but that was primarily distributed over the lower Southeast. Although connections have been demonstrated, their significance has remained enigmatic. How and why were apparently utilitarian vessels, or the wooden tools used to make them, distributed widely across the landscape?
This book assesses Woodland Period interactions using technofunctional, mineralogical, and chemical data derived from Swift Creek Complicated Stamped sherds whose provenience is fully documented from both mortuary mounds and village middens along the Atlantic coast. Together, these data demonstrate formal and functional differences between mortuary and village assemblages along with the nearly exclusive occurrence of foreign-made cooking pots in mortuary contexts. The Swift Creek Gift provides insight into the unique workings of gift exchanges to transform seemingly mundane materials like cooking pots into powerful tools of commemoration, affiliation, and ownership.
Trust, Ethnicity, and Identity deals with the economic role of laws and institutions in achieving social order in a decentralized economy. Specifically, this book considers the coordinating role of three major nonprice institutions--ethnic trading networks, contract law, and gift-exchange--in economizing on transaction costs and thus facilitating the process of exchange in decentralized economies in different historical contexts.
The major unifying theme of the book is this: identity matters when traders operate in an environment characterized by contract uncertainty, where the legal framework for the enforcement of contracts is not well developed. This in turn points out the importance of trust embedded in particularistic exchange relations such as kinship or ethnicity.
One unique facet of this book is that the author uses a property rights--public choice approach--part of the New Institutional Economics--to provide a unifying theoretical framework to explain such diverse exchange institutions as contract law, ethnic trading networks, and gift-exchange, In addition, it goes beyond the New Institutional Economics paradigm by incorporating some crucial concepts from sociology, anthropology, and bioeconomics, such as social structure, social norms, culture, reciprocity, and kin-related altruism. This broad interdisciplinary framework gives Landa's work a relevance beyond economics to law, political science, sociology, anthropology, and bioeconomics.