Sunday, January 20, 2013
A "gifted" book about gifts! The Gift. Forms and functions of exchange in archaic societies (1954).
Marcel Mauss, 1872 -1950. The Gift. Forms and functions of exchange in archaic societies (1954). The more I read it, the more "gifted" I feel. Discover the gift as morality! Mauss's most influential work is his Essay sur le don (1923–24; English translation: The Gift. Forms and functions of exchange in archaic societies, 1954), a comparative essay on gift-giving and exchange in "primitive" societies. On the basis of empirical examples from a wide range of societies, Mauss describes the obligations attendent on gift-giving: the obligation to give gifts (by giving, one shows oneself as generous, and thus as deserving of respect), the obligation to receive them (by receiving the gift, one shows respect to the giver, and concommittantly proves one's own generocity), and the obligation to return the gift (thus demonstrating that one's honor is - at least - equivalent to that of the original giver). Gift-giving is thus steeped in morality, and by giving, receiving and returning gifts, a moral bond between the persons exchanging gifts. At the same time, Mauss emphasizes the competitive and strategic aspect of gift-giving: by giving more than one's competitors, one lays claim to greater respect than them, and gift-giving contests (such as the famous North-West Coast Native American potlatch), are thus common in the ethnographic record. In this work, Mauss thus lays the foundation for a theoretical understanding of the nature of social relations. http://www.anthrobase.com/Dic/eng/pers/mauss_marcel.htm
Posted by Antonia Korka at 1:53 PM