Chapter

Comparison

Marilyn Strathern

in The Gender of the Gift

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 1988 | ISBN: 9780520064232
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520910713 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520064232.003.0012
Comparison

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Some sense of the variety of social forms is sustained in the running distinction between societies whose exchange systems do and those whose do not produce more kinship. Comparative anthropology misleadingly assumes that all societies struggle with the same givens of nature, so that all social formations appear equivalently and thus holistically organized to the same ends. The oppositions and analogies and encompassments described in this book have been presented as coexistent attributes of a “system” (the Melanesian aesthetic). From a Melanesian perspective, this is what is missing is real time. It has been seen that the benefits of ceremonial gift exchange must be reabsorbed by one or the other partner in order to create a premise for new action. The same could be said of Melanesian knowledge.

Keywords: comparative anthropology; Melanesian aesthetic; societies; gift exchange

Chapter.  2028 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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