In the villages and small towns of Oaxaca, Mexico, as in much of rural Latin America, cooperation among neighbors is essential for personal and community survival. It can take many forms, from godparenting to sponsoring fiestas, holding civic offices, or exchanging agricultural or other kinds of labor. This book examines the ways in which the people of Santa Ana del Valle practice these traditional cooperative and reciprocal relationships and also invent new relationships to respond to global forces of social and economic change at work within their community.
Based on fieldwork he conducted in this Zapotec-speaking community between 1992 and 1996, Jeffrey Cohen describes continuities in the Santañeros' practices of cooperation, as well as changes resulting from transnational migration, tourism, increasing educational opportunities, and improved communications. His nuanced portrayal of the benefits and burdens of cooperation is buttressed by the words of many villagers who explain why and how they participate-or not-in reciprocal family and community networks. This rich ethnographic material offers a working definition of community created in and through cooperative relationships.
Deianeira sends her husband Herakles a poisoned robe. Eriphyle trades the life of her husband Amphiaraos for a golden necklace. Atreus’s wife Aerope gives away the token of his sovereignty, a lamb with a golden fleece, to his brother Thyestes, who has seduced her. Gifts and exchanges always involve a certain risk in any culture, but in the ancient Greek imagination, women and gifts appear to be a particularly deadly combination.
This book explores the role of gender in exchange as represented in ancient Greek culture, including Homeric epic and tragedy, non-literary texts, and iconographic and historical evidence of various kinds. Using extensive insights from anthropological work on marriage, kinship, and exchange, as well as ethnographic parallels from other traditional societies, Deborah Lyons probes the gendered division of labor among both gods and mortals, the role of marriage (and its failure) in transforming women from objects to agents of exchange, the equivocal nature of women as exchange-partners, and the importance of the sister-brother bond in understanding the economic and social place of women in ancient Greece. Her findings not only enlarge our understanding of social attitudes and practices in Greek antiquity but also demonstrate the applicability of ethnographic techniques and anthropological theory to the study of ancient societies.
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.
Exchanges of women between men occur regularly in Greek tragedy—and almost always with catastrophic results. Instead of cementing bonds between men, such exchanges rend them. They allow women, who should be silent objects, to become monstrous subjects, while men often end up as lifeless corpses. But why do the tragedies always represent the transferal of women as disastrous?
Victoria Wohl offers an illuminating analysis of the exchange of women in Sophocles' Trachiniae, Aeschylus' Agamemnon, and Euripides' Alcestis. She shows how the attempts of women in these plays to become active subjects rather than passive objects of exchange inevitably fail. While these failures seem to validate male hegemony, the women's actions, however futile, blur the distinction between male subject and female object, calling into question the very nature of the tragic self. What the tragedies thus present, Wohl asserts, is not only an affirmation of Athens' reigning ideologies (including its gender hierarchy) but also the possibility of resistance to them and the imagination of alternatives.
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.
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.
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