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Personhood & Exchange Anth101 SPR18

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Julie Jenkins

on 8 March 2018

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Transcript of Personhood & Exchange Anth101 SPR18

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?
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
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 groups
"we" are unique individuals
"they" are homogeneous, passively reproducing culture

"we" are 'individualistic'
"they" are 'communal', 'cooperative', relational
(outsider) explanations of the conflict typically stereotype it as an 'ethnic' conflict, where the 'Kabre' have a "culture of violence"
Is this really a 'ethnic' conflict?

No... "ethnicity" one way people talk about and experience power & inequality, where privileges are given to some, but not others
competing understandings of the person

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
-strengthening social relationships
-while gaining access to valued goods
-distribution of goods where no overt account is kept, no expectation of return
-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 to a social center 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)
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 (i.e. expectation) 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

--illegitimate production and consumption
How was the formation of the 'Kabre' influenced by the trans-atlantic slave trade?
What was the colonial period like?
How did Eyadema instill his power over the country?
-“Kabre” in the North
Minority Group
-“Ewe” in the South
Majority Group
Deeply influenced engagement with neighboring communities and globalization.
- How were they influenced?
-characterized by protests, strikes, & political violence
--300,000 Togolese fled Lome- to interior, Benin, and Ghana.

Elections held in 1994
-- Eyadema won with 98% of the votes
we might think about ourselves as individuals, but is this always the case? Do we also emphasize at times relations, communality, cooperation?
-indigenous Americans in North West
-high status persons accumulated wealth objects from community
-redistributed to neighboring communities through potlatch ceremonies
-outlawed in 1904
"alternating hierarchies" of need/desire, respect
How are Beng babies thought of? What characteristics of personhood are ascribed on them?
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