Bilinda Straight ANTH 4600
Money, Consumption, and Cannibals
What do vampires, the devil, and cannibals have to do with money or commodities? Does money mean the same thing to all people? How do individuals in different societies make sense of western currencies and the abundance of goods available to them (whether in reality or fantasy)? We’ll answer these and other questions in this course which focuses on the meaning of money and commodities cross-culturally. A growing number of anthropologists are asking questions relating to global capitalism that move beyond facile assumptions about the use of money in “non-western” economies. In order to enter into this lively debate, we will begin the course with a few lectures and key readings delving into contemporary interpretations of the terms we will be concerned with throughout the course. We will also familiarize ourselves with classic anthropological notions about the distinction between money and gift economies. The rest of the course will be devoted to breaking down such distinctions and exploring the diverse ways in which individual societies have dealt with the problem of money and commoditization. We will see how money finds its way into practices ranging from weddings to spirit possessions and how money and goods are gendered in different societies. Finally, we will explore the ways in which money and goods--and often the whiteness associated with their introduction--can have literally monstrous connotations.
Required Books: The following required books are available for purchase at WMU’s Bookstore:
J. Parry and M. Bloch, eds. (1989) Money and the Morality of Exchange. Cambridge:
University of Cambridge Press.
Patricia Spyer, ed. (1998) Border Fetishisms: Material Objects in Unstable Spaces. N.Y.: Routledge.
Annette Weiner (1992) Inalienable Possessions: The Paradox of Keeping-While-Giving. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Recommended Book: Marcel Mauss (1906), The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies. N.Y.: W.W. Norton and Company.
Course Packet: A packet of required readings will be on reserve at Waldo Library.
Grading (See Grading Key for complete instructions)
Attendance 15% Prospectus for Final Essay 10%
Responses 20% Preliminary Bibliography 15%
Presentations 10% Final Essay 30%
In a class of this kind and size, your presence and participation are essential to the quality of the experience for others as well as yourself. Your attendance grade will be based on the number of days you are absent, calculated as points missed on a one-hundred percent scale. Two are the most absences allowed for an ‘A’, and the grade will go down with each a
dditional day missed. Papers will be graded on content, style, and mechanics. A full grade will be deducted for each day a paper is late. Extensions are given only because of illness or serious extenuating personal circumstances. Extensions will not be given because of conflicts with assignments in other classes.
There will be no exams in this class. Students will write weekly one-page responses to the readings (20% of grade). These should include very brief summaries and at least a paragraph of critique (per reading).
Presentations (10% of grade):
Working with a partner, all students will sign up to assist in facilitating one class discussion. Reading additional sources to present to enhance the discussion is encouraged but not required. What is required is that you are well-prepared, with thoughtful questions and possibly an activity.
Prospectus for Final Essay (10% of grade): This will be a 2-3 page essay discussing the theoretical perspective and topic you will pursue for your final paper. It should be written in a clear, essay style, containing a preliminary argument and topic and the kinds of material (essays, books, popular media, local fieldwork) you will use to pursue that argument.
Preliminary Bibliography (15% of grade): This will be an annotated bibliography of sources you are using so far in your paper. Write a one-paragraph summary for each of 4 or 5 sources, and a sentence or two of how they should be useful to your paper. Include full bibliographic information for each of these sources, and do not include course readings! Course readings should be used for your paper where appropriate but do not count towards this assignment. (Recommended readings can be used though). You must limit yourself to one web site source only, and use at least one book.
Final Essay (30% of grade): This will be a 12-15 page research essay. (I will read slightly longer essays.) It can be on a topic of your choice, which is relevant to the course readings. Local fieldwork and/or original research with popular media is highly encouraged for this project, and we will discuss methods in class. If you have difficulty in coming up with a topic, please feel free to see me. Include a bibliography for anything you cite, and for readings you already know you will be using. When you cite, quote, or paraphrase in text, put an in-text citation in parentheses (author’s last name, date, page number if a direct quote). It looks like this: (Straight 1997) or (Straight 1997: 37).
All essay grades appear as a quantitative grade. All quantitative semester grades are multiplied by the percentage of the spread they represent. Thus, if attendance is worth 20% of the grade, it would be calculated as follows: If you were absent 5 times out of 30 total class days, you would be counted as absent 3 times (2 days of grace). 3 out of 30 is 10 percent absence, or 90% presence. So you have a 90 on attendance, multiplied by 20% of the spread, gives you 18. All grades thus calculated are added together to equal the total percentage out of one hundred. Your semester grade is then calculated as per the key below.
Grade Scale for Final Grades
below 60 E
PART ONE: OBJECTS: GIFTS and FETISHES
Wednesday, September 4
Introduction to course plan and requirements. Lecture on objects, value, meaning.
Individual sharing about objects.
NO CLASS FRIDAY, SEPT. 6th—ANTHROPOLOGY FACULTY RETREAT
Monday, September 9
Read (CP) Mauss pp. 1-18.
Read (CP) Mauss pp. 19-46 AND pp. 100-102--footnote 29.
Friday, September 13
Read (CP) Levi-Strauss, “Selections from Introduction to the Work of Marcel Mauss,”
Monday, September 16:
Read (CP) Marx (McLellan, ed.) “On James Mill,” pp. 114-123.
Wednesday, September 18
Read Spyer Chapter Seven: Peter Stallybrass, “Marx’s Coat” (pp. 183-207).
PART TWO: MONEY
Friday, September 20
Read Parry and Bloch, Chapter One: Jonathan Parry and Maurice Bloch, “Introduction:
Money and the Morality of Exchange” (pp. 1-32).
Monday, September 23
Read Parry and Bloch, Chapter Three: Jonathan Parry, “On the Moral Perils of
Exchange” (pp. 64-93).
Wednesday, September 25
Read Parry and Bloch, Chapter Four: R. L. Sirrat, “Money, Men and Women” (pp. 94-
Friday, September 27
Read Parry and Bloch, Chapter Five: Janet Carsten, “Cooking Money: Gender and the
Symbolic Transformation of Means of Exchange in a Malay Fishing Community” (pp.
Monday, September 30
Read Parry and Bloch, Chapter Seven: Maurice Bloch, “The Symbolism of Money in
Imerina” (pp. 165-190).
Wednesday, October 2
Read Parry and Bloch, Chapter Nine: M. J. Sallnow, “Precious Metals in the Andean
Moral Economy” (pp. 209-231).
Friday, October 4
Read Parry and Bloch, Chapter Ten: Olivia Harris, “The Earth and the State: The
Sources and Meanings of Money in Northern Potosi, Bolivia” (pp. 232-268).
PART THREE: CONSUMPTION AND COMMODITIES AS FETISH
Monday, October 7
Read Introduction in Annette Weiner, Inalienable Possessions.
Wednesday, October 9
Read Weiner, Chapter One.
Friday, October 11
Read Weiner, Chapter Two.
Monday, October 14
Read Weiner, Chapter Three. Prospectus Due.
Wednesday, October 16
Read Weiner, Chapter Four.
Friday, October 18
Read Weiner, Chapter Five and Afterword.
Monday, October 21
Read Spyer, “Introduction” (pp. 1-11) and (CP) Appadurai “Introduction to The Social
Life of Things.”
Wednesday, October 23
Read Spyer, Chapter One: Webb Keane, “Calvin in the Tropics: Objects and Subjects at
the Religious Frontier” (pp. 13-34).
Friday, October 25
Read Spyer, Chapter Two: Susan Legene, “From Brooms to Obea and Back: Fetish
Conversion and Border Crossings in Nineteenth-Century Suriname” (pp. 35-59).
Monday, October 28
Read Spyer, Chapter Three: Robert J. Foster, “Your Money, Our Money, the Government’s Money: Finance and Fetishism in Melanesia” (pp. 60-90).
Wednesday, October 30
Read Spyer, Chapter Four: Peter Pels, “The Spirit of the Matter: On Fetish, Rarity, Fact,
and Fancy” (pp. 91-121).
Friday, November 1
Read Spyer Chapter Five: Adela Pinch, “Stealing Happiness: Shoplifting in Early
Nineteenth-Century England” (pp. 122-149).
Monday, November 4
Read Spyer Chapter Six: Patricia Spyer, “The Tooth of Time, or Taking a Look at the
“Look” of Clothing in Late Nineteenth-Century Aru” (pp. 150-182). Preliminary Bibliography Due.
Wednesday, November 6
Read Spyer Chapter Eight: Annelies Moors, “Wearing Gold” (pp. 208-223).
PART FOUR: CANNIBALISM
Friday, November 8
Read (CP) Michael Taussig (2002). The Genesis of Capitalism Amongst a South
American Peasantry: Devil’s Labor and the Baptism of Money,” a reprint of Chapter
Seven of his The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America (1980).
Monday, November 11
Read (CP) Peter Gose (1986) “Sacrifice and the Commodity Form in the Andes” MAN 21
Wednesday, November 13
Commodification in the Sierra Leone Hinterland.” Pp. 50-70 In Henrietta L. Moore and
Todd Sanders (eds.) Magical Interpretations, Material Realities. New York, NY:
Friday, November 15
East and Central Africa” Representations 43: 27-50.
Monday, November 18
Read (CP) Brad Weiss (1998) “Electric Vampires: Haya Rumors of the Commodified
Body,” pp. 172-194. (In Lambek and Strathern, eds.).
NO CLASS WED., NOVEMBER 20 AND FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22 (AMERICAN ANTHRO MEETINGS IN NEW ORLEANS)
Monday, November 25
Read (CP) Pamela Schmoll (1993) “Black Stomachs, Beautiful Stones: Soul-Eating
Among Hausa in Niger. Pp. 193-220 In Jean and John Comaroff (eds) Modernity and Its
Malcontents: Ritual and Power in Postcolonial Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago
NO CLASS WED., NOVEMBER 27 AND FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 29 (THANKSGIVING)
Monday, December 2
Read (CP) Adeline Masquelier (2000). “Of Headhunters and Cannibals: Migrancy, Labor
and Consumption in the Mawri Imagination.” Cultural Anthropology 15(1): 84-126.
Wednesday, December 4
the Occult in Tanzania.” Pp. 160-183 In Henrietta L. Moore and Todd Sanders (eds.)
Magical Interpretations, Material Realities. New York, NY: Routledge.
Friday, December 6
Sharing projects. Conclusion. *Early Bird Final Essay Deadline for 5 bonus points.*
Monday, December 9th
Final Essays Due in My Mailbox. No Exceptions.