Gifts and Exchange

Hirokazu Miyazaki

in The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199218714
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 Gifts and Exchange

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A gift contains within itself a part of its giver: ‘to make a gift of something to someone is to make a present of some part of oneself’. This article traces the trajectories of debates in socio-cultural anthropology that have stemmed from Mauss' solution to the problem of reciprocity, with a view to stepping outside these trajectories. The first half of this article seeks to demonstrate that the succession of debates following Mauss' essay consists of repeated attempts to rework the relationship between Mauss' original problem and solution. This article draws upon the ideas of the French sociologist Marcel Mauss and his critique of Claude Levis Strauss. This article further traces Weiner's revision and renewal of Mauss' thesis of the inalienability of gifts which has had a significant impact on subsequent debates about gifts and exchange. A detailed analysis of aesthetic constraints related to gift and ideas of extension concludes this article.

Keywords: gifts; exchange; Mauss; socio-cultural anthropology; inalienability; aesthetic constraints

Article.  8575 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; History and Theory of Archaeology

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