THIS IS THE OVERALL ASSIGNMENT, but i only need the two question above answered.
Paper Prompt #2: Gift Exchange Analysis (40 points)
Instructions: Your paper should be up to 6 pages in length (double-spaced). Please read all of the following instructions carefully, and answer all parts of each of the 4 questions to receive full credit.
Read This First
Anthropologists have traditionally studied how social ties among people are created through systems of kinship and marriage; this is a universal aspect of human social systems. Marriages link families who were previously strangers into kin (affines = relatives by marriage). Such new social relations are cemented by the exchange of goods—expected gifts (or services)—at the time of the marriage; this appears to be a universal aspect of marriage systems.
People give each other gifts all the time, and in all cultures of the world. According to the French anthropologist Marcel Mauss, who first wrote about this phenomenon in 1924, gift giving is a universal way of creating and maintaining social relations among people. This is because gift giving creates social obligations. Gifts "cement" social relationships, and members of a society understand what the implicit rules of gift giving are.
Now: Read each of the following three sections BEFORE you write your paper
1. Read the entire article On Human Nature: Strings Attached (The Sciences, 1989) on D2L. In the beginning of the article, author Lee Cronk discusses possible cultural misunderstandings that were involved in the creation of the unfortunate (and racist) term ‘Indian giver.’ These misunderstandings were offensive to both Native Americans and whites. Europeans thought that gifts should be freely given and that the gift is less valued when there are strings attached. On a worldwide survey of different cultures, however, it is far more common for the strings themselves to be the main consideration of value. Because of this, when anthropologists study economic exchanges they are more interested in the social relationship between the gift giver and the receiver than in the actual gift.
2. Read the following excerpt from the ‘Foreward’ by anthropologist Mary Douglas in the 2000 (2000; pp. vi-xi [orig 1990]) publication of The Gift by Marcel Mauss. In the excerpt below, Mary Douglas discusses why there is really no such thing as a ‘free gift.’
“...the whole idea of a free gift (i.e., charity) is based on a misunderstanding...it becomes the donor’s intention to be exempt from return gifts coming from the recipient, and such a refusal puts the act of giving outside of mutual social ties.... We can see how this runs against our [American] idea of ‘gift’... Each gift is actually part of a system of reciprocity in which the honour of giver and recipient are engaged...There is an inherent understanding that every gift has to be returned in some way, which sets up a perpetual cycle of exchanges within and between generations. In some cases the specified return is of equal value, producing a stable system of statuses; in others it must exceed the value of the earlier gift, producing an escalating contest for honor. A whole society can be described by the catalogue of transfers that map all the obligations between its members.”
3. Read “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari” found in Appendix A, at the back of the Dobe Ju’/honasi ethnography by Richard Lee. This piece describes the attempt by Richard Lee to gift an ox at Christmas to the Dobe Ju as a way to thank them for allowing him to
conduct his research. In this case, Lee found that the cultural rules behind gift giving did not conform to the notion of an ‘American gift’ because gift giving typically involves the principle of reciprocity. Also, the Ju are very aware that gifts can be used to embarrass rivals or to foster feelings of indebtedness (see Cronk article), especially when the gift exchange involves social groups (or nations) rather than individuals.
Questions to be addressed in your paper:
1. Why do the Ju react the way they do to Lee’s offer of buying and slaughtering an ox for them to celebrate Christmas in the Kalahari? Why was Lee’s gift not viewed as part of their Hxaro exchange system? How does the Ju understanding of reciprocity differ in Hxaro exchanges as compared to Lee’s gift of an ox?
2. Explain what Mary Douglas means in the following quote: “A gift that does nothing to enhance [or alter] social relations is a contradiction” (Douglas, 2000). Why is it a contradiction? Discuss why you agree or disagree with her statement, and how you think it relates to gift giving practices in the United States. Specifically, consider why Americans tend to devalue a gift that has ‘strings attached’ whereas other cultures do not?
3. Think about a gift exchange in your own life that DID NOT occur on a specified holiday (birthday, Christmas, Valentines Day, Easter, etc.), and which represents an example of one of the following types of gift giving strategies: Hxaro, Swapping, Kula, or Potlatch (it must represent one of these types). First, analyze your exchange and make a clear case to me as to why it is an example of a particular strategy. Second, discuss the ‘strings’ in your gift exchange by answering the following questions: What was the relationship between the giver and receiver? Had previous gifts been given? What prompted this exchange? What was given/received? Was price a concern? Was the gift considered ‘appropriate’ – or did some aspect of it feel inappropriate and cause tension between the giver/receiver? Was this exchange in response to a previous exchange (i.e., established reciprocity)? How did the exchange alter or enhance the relationship between the giver and receiver? Were there feelings of indebtedness that were created or alleviated by the exchange?
4. Conclude your paper by considering how the practice of gift exchange is related to kinship systems, and why it therefore may be foundational to the development of human society and culture, stretching all the way back to early modern humans in the Paleolithic.