War Canoes and Their Magic

in The Pan-African Nation

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2005 | ISBN: 9780226023540
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226023564 | DOI:
War Canoes and Their Magic

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This chapter focuses on the FESTAC Regatta with Gell's reflections on the value of art not only because they throw the main themes—canoes, magic, money, and exchange—into bold relief, but also because they foreground the problem of value itself. Briefly stated, Gell uses Simmel to establish a basic contrast between magic as ideal technology versus money as ideal exchange. Whereas the technology of enchantment produces objects of value without expenditure, exchange assumes a form of commensurability and equivalence established by money. Gell's aesthetic argument is quite subtle and complex, developing a set of homologies or “scheme transfers” between the technical processes and social relations of art production, but these “precede” exchange in any economic sense.

Keywords: scheme transfers; FESTAC; Gell; expenditure; money; exchange; war canoes

Chapter.  18762 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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