Saturday, February 7, 2015
I've always said I'd never want to be President. I feel like all the time, half the people would despise me and the other half adore me. Does this paradigm play a role in economic activity in relation to intimate relationships?
Lastly, I really enjoy the sort of closing question posed by Zelizer. Given that we live in a world of money and cannot sustain our lives without it, how can we possibly decide who owes what to whom? Is money truly the root of all evil?
Thursday, February 5, 2015
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
The word/practice I was referring to is guanxi - relationships, connections.
Here's a quick discussion of guanxi in business practices in China from the BBC. This ties in well with our discussion of gifts among business bosses-employees in Japan!
I first encountered the concept in the book "Gifts, Favors, and Banquets: the Art of Social Relations in China" by Mayair Young. The book provides a much broader analysis of guanxi beyond business relations.
1. Keith Hart's description and discussion of the kina shells necklace (not to be confused with the kula shells!) circulating as currency in Africa. The discussion moves from the shells to Mauss so it connect with many of our discussions on Mauss.
2. (you'll have to scroll down to find this) Jane Guyer's discussion of "The iron currencies of Southern Cameroon" regarding her discovery through museum objects, archives and ethnographic work of the bikie (iron rods), pre-colonial currencies in circulation in south Cameroon before colonial currencies were introduced/imposed. The background she provides here helps to further explain the discussion of multiplicity of currencies in Atlantic Africa.
Monday, February 2, 2015
Sunday, February 1, 2015
In “Some Principles of Exchange and Investment among the Tiv,” Paul Bohan describes the three categories of items with exchangeable wealth he observes in Tiv society. One group contains items related to subsistence, focusing on local food items. This is a category considered to fulfill needs of all people, unlike the second category, associated with wealth and status. Cattle, slaves, and metal bars are exchangeable commodities that fall into this grouping. The third relates to rights, especially of "dependent" Tiv people like women and children.
Any commodities left uncategorized are considered without an exchange rate despite their reciprocal value. This interested me, and I was wondering how these items may have been exchanged/acquired. Some of these commodities could be produced individually and therefore have no market demand or value. Considering Bohan's definition of market, these also could be acquired in the form of a gift. It is an item having no attachment to exchangeable wealth but usually having an expectation of return of something with equivalent/greater value.
Bohannan, Paul, “Some Principles of Exchange and Investment among the Tiv,” American Anthropologist 1955
In our economy, it seems money only takes on life when something is sold for a higher price than for what it was purchased, yet even so we have rises and falls. In a system like the Tivs', would there ever be anything that could decrease collective, communal wealth other than a natural disaster? Inflation occurred in the economy after the introduction of money, but in a market of goods for goods, could there ever be inflation?
Additionally, in relation to Agapi Fos's response to this reading, I, too, noted the exclusion of land as a trade-able item; rather, land rights are distributed amongst male family members, so families within the same lineage remain organized spatially around one another (p63). However, practically, if land cannot be exchanged between strangers so that the collective amount of land designated to a particular lineage does not grow, at some point each descendant will inherit less land than necessary to produce the necessary amount of items to exchange in the market in order to live. What was the Tivs' solution to this dilemma?
Bohannan, Paul, 1955. "Some Principles of Exchange and Investment among the Tiv." American Anthropologist.
Semiprofessional traders that begin to exchange grain across Tiv borders and utilize subsistence marketing for purpose of increasing money is uncomfortable. Tiv women’s role within this area correlates to sphere of exchange and not monetary lowest category complex. Interestingly semiprofessional traders and women who now share these marketing routes are observed “admirable” by Bohannen’s Tiv. However I wonder if this internal acceptance is easily received and/or observed when engaged with different trading groups.
Tiv paradox near of end of article estimates subsistence exports to insatiable non-local market as without sustainable recourse to local consumption. I cannot imagine hardships dealing with non-Tiv trades while attempting to outbid markets that demand higher production than time allows.
This reminds me of the American notion to claim one's middle class status, even in cases when people don't even fall into the middle class. I've seen statistics that roughly 70 percent of Americans think they're middle class, which can hardly be true, despite the edition of "upper" and "lower" modifiers to the term "middle class." It seems that American capitalist society is characterized by the use of innovative, experimental and often risky methods for trying to increase wealth. That parallel between ancient Mayan society and modern American society can serve as evidence that the ancient ideas of "economy" really do have roots that grow into today's society
(A sound track for reading this post)