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Becoming A Person Anth101 SPR2016

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Julie Jenkins

on 2 March 2016

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Transcript of Becoming A Person Anth101 SPR2016

Becoming A Person:
Personhood & Exchange

Understanding the Social

What does it mean to be a [gendered] person in any given culture?
What kinds of relationships do we have?
How are these relationships organized into social institutions?
-“Kabre” in the North
Minority Group
-“Ewe” in the South
Majority Group

1884- German colony until WW1

Then, French Colony

-Independence in 1960
Power since 1967
‘Dictator’ until democratic transition in 1993-
then ‘President’
Died 2 Feb 2005
Democratic Transition started in 1990
Political Violence or Ethnic Violence?
1990- students handed out anti-government pamphlets, charged, and stood trial.
Students mostly ‘Ewe’
Their trial sparked riots in Lome
between the government security forces and general population
Government security mostly ‘Kabre’
1991- Military held ‘interim’ legislature hostage.
Opposition parties organized a strike in Lome to force Eyadema to agree to the conditions of election
Strike shut down Lome for 3 months
1993- Eyadema declared transitional Prime Minister to be under his authority
Security forces fired on peaceful protesters- 19 killed
Sparked off violence in Lome- security forces shot indiscriminately
300,000 Togolese fled Lome- to interior, Benin, and Ghana.
2005- Eyadema dies
Son, Faure Gnassingbe takes over
African Union and United Nations threaten economic and military sanctions
Election held- Gnassingbe won with 60% of vote.
What is a person?
How does society define what a person is?
How do we experience those definitions?
Within Euro/American culture, since Enlightenment (17th century):
"person from birth"
coerced into society through social control:
--norms, laws, structures, religion
our style of thinking has influenced how we understand other cultures
we are unique individuals
they are homogeneous, passively reproducing culture
What characteristics of personhood can describe Beng infants??
explanations of the conflict stereotypes the 'Kabre' as having a "culture of violence"
Is this really a 'ethnic' conflict?

Or is "ethnicity" one way people talk about and experience power & inequality?

Are the 'Kabre' really outside of modernity & processes of globalization?
What type of personhood is prioritized, when is it prioritized, and how is it prioritized?
constructions of personhood underpins ideals and practices around exchange, the life course, gender, marriage, etc.
"We are thus dealing with persons constantly involved in, and defined through, relations"
Piot, p. 18

to return the gift
-gain access to valued goods
-while strengthening social relationships
-distribution of goods where no overt account is kept
-ideally altruistic
-trade is conducted for the purpose of material advantage
-based on the desire to get something for nothing or a better bargain.
-goods collected from or contributed by members of a groups then redistributed in a new pattern
Market Exchange
-goods/services bought and sold at a monetary price
"explore certain understandings about persons, hierarchy, and agency that operate in the exchange context"
(Piot, p. 52)
Reciprocity (gift exchange)
Market transactions (commodity exchange)
"Soon after the draft, she told me that I owed her a million dollars for raising me for the past 18 years. Well, that was news to me...The covenant of having a child is simply that you give your child everything possible and they you nothing beyond a normal amount of love and respect. There is no financial arrangement. There is no financial arrangement. If you get old and infirm and your kinds are around to help you out at the point, then you're lucky. It's not written in the social contract...it's a one way street when it comes to money"
What type of exchange does Piot highlight in ch. 3?
How does the Ikpanture relationship develop? What is its purpose?
"Persons use things to gain access to persons rather than that they use persons to gain access to things"
When does Piot speculate that the formalized Ikapanture relationships historically developed?
If the norm in Kabre society is to exchange, how are those who do not exchange understood? What happens to them?
"There is a striking similarity between the economy of the witch and that of the capitalist; both involve the conversion of persons into things - the consumption of persons...both represent an inversion of the logic and aims of gift exchange" p. 68
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