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Sc2218 lecture 7 (2011)


Lecture 7: Economic and Exchange

Lecture 7: Economic and Exchange

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  • 1. SC2218: Anthropology and the Human Condition Lecture 7: Economics and Exchange Eric C. Thompson Semester 1, 2011/2012 MONEY
  • 2. Where Are We Going?
    • Part 1: What is Anthropology?
      • Strangers Abroad, Race, Culture
    • Part 2: What do Anthropologists Study?
      • Kinship
      • Gender
      • Economy
      • Community
    • Part 3: Current Debates and Trends
      • Representing Others, The Poetry of Culture, World Anthropologies
  • 3. Outline of the Lecture
    • The Myth of Scarcity
    • Exchange Exercise
    • “ Cultural” basis of economics & exchange.
    • Exchange in Cultural Context
      • Hxaro Exchange (Dobe Ju/’hoansi)
      • Potlatch (Native North America)
      • Kula Ring (Trobriand Islands)
      • Wholesale Sushi (Tokyo, Japan)
  • 4. The Myth of Scarcity (and why it matters)
    • Foragers have a generally easier life than people in agricultural and industrial societies.
    • Foragers work 20-40 hours a week; We work 60-80 hours a week.
    • Foragers are healthier and have longer life expectancies than agriculturalists.
  • 5. Why it matters . . .
    • It calls into question the idea that agriculture and industry emerged to “ meet basic needs ” (Foragers needs are met already!)
    • Something else is going on…
    • That something else is social relationships , based on exchange , and mediated by culture !
  • 6. Exchange Exercise
    • Write NAME on Paper and Name Tag
    • Walk around the room to find exchange partners. Exchange only ONCE with any one person. You will have about 15 min.
    • When exchange do the following:
      • Put 0 or 1 or 2 beads in your closed hand.
      • Pump your fist 3 times
      • Open your hand and exchange.
    • Record the name of the person and the nett number of beads you lost or gained.
  • 7. Exchange Examples
    • Ann gives 1 bead, Bob gives 2 beads:
      • Ann writes “Bob (1)” under “Gained” column
      • Bob writes “Ann (1)” under “Lost” column
    • Ann gives 2 beads; Bob gives 0 beads:
      • Ann writes “Bob (2)” under “Lost” column
      • Bob writes “Ann (2)” under “Gained” column
    • Ann and Bob both give 1 or 2 beads.
      • Write the other’s name under “Even Exchange”
    • Ann and Bob both give 0 beads
      • Write nothing; no exchange has occurred!
  • 8. Economics and Exchange
    • Economics: study of production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.
    • Economy: system of production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.
    • Exchange:
      • Distributing Goods and Services AND
      • Creating/Enacting Relationships among People
      • AND Production of VALUE
  • 9. What is Cultural about Economics and Exchange?
    • Economic systems do not just meet “basic needs” (foragers do that without exchange). Something more is going on.
    • People enact relationships based on beliefs and knowledge without understanding the ‘whole’ system (e.g. kula ring; stock brokers)
    • If modern economies are based on rational laws of supply and demand, why bother with “culture” in studying economics?
  • 10. Exchange in Cultural Contexts
    • !Xharo exchange (Dobe Ju/’hoansi)
      • Lee, Chapter
    • Potlatch (Northwest Native American)
      • “ Shackles of Tradition” (film on Franz Boas)
    • Kula Ring (Trobriand Islands)
      • “ Off the Veranda” (film on Malinowski)
    • Wholesale Sushi (Tsukiji, Japan)
      • Ted Bestor (reading pack)
    • Branding (Global Capitalism; Coca-cola)
      • Robert Foster, Cultural Anthropology Vol. 22(4), 2007 (optional reading)
  • 11. Hxaro Exchange: Basic Lessons in Gift Giving
    • Hxaro is “a delayed form of nonequivalent gift exchange”… why?
    • The delay and nonequivalency ensure that the exchange is perpetuated . . .
    • The value is not in the things but in the social relationship .
    • Social relationships are crucial in all kinds of ways. (Our Exchange Exercise)
  • 12. Potlatch (See film: “Shackles of Traditions”)
    • Potlatch is a term associated with Native Americans (Northwest). But practiced in many places. (e.g. “A Man without Pigs”)
    • Giving away, sometimes destroying, wealth.
    • Redistribution of wealth.
    • Display and production of status.
    • How does this compare to “conspicuous consumption”?
  • 13. Off the Veranda
    • What key contributions did Malinowski make to anthropology?
    • How did Malinowski understand the role of magic (especially as compared to Evans-Pritchard)?
    • How do the exchange relationships in the KULA RING of Pacific Islanders (Film: Off the Veranda ) and the POTLATCH of Northwest Coast Native Americans (Film: Shackles of Tradition ) compare to HXARO exchange relationships among the Dobe Ju/’hoansi (Lee)? How do they compare to exchange relationships in contemporary Singapore?
  • 14. The Kula Ring: Lesson in Complexity If I live here I trade necklaces to get armshells from these people I trade armshells to get necklaces from these people We all know the rules; But none of us may understand the system!
  • 15. Kula Ring as a Complex Cultural System
    • Individuals on each island act on their own desires (to get high status items) based on a set of cultural rules.
    • These interactions create a complex system of exchanges and social relationships.
    • It is possible that no individual in the system understands “the whole system”.
  • 16. “ Wholesale Sushi”
    • Tsukiji Fish market
    • History
    • Social Organization
    • Food Culture (What is “Japanese” Food?)
    • Industrialization
    • Domesticity (Family/Kinship) and Cuisine
    • Authenticity, the “Invention of Tradition”
    • Temporal Patterns (“Time to Eat”)
    • Tradescapes, Culinaryscapes, “Webs of Significance”
  • 17. Toro (Tuna Belly)
    • How is “value” created?
    • Before the 1950s, toro was “not fit for cats”?
    • Now, toro is considered premium sushi.
    • How did this happen?
  • 18. Practical Application and Food for Thought
    • What kinds of exchanges to you participate in?
      • Think of shopping at 7-11, birthday presents, little red packets, what else??
      • What is important in these, the people you are exchanging with or the things being exchanged?
    • Next time you are standing in line at Fair Price, 7-11 or wherever, look at what you are buying.
      • Reflect on “Wholesale Sushi”. Can you imagine all the cultural meanings and social relationships that brought the thing you are buying to market?
      • Pay attention to the clerk at the register. Have you ever considered your social relationship with him/her?