Social and material exchanges
(P46)
Location H
Date and Time 10th December, 2008 at 08:30

Convenor

Cris Shore (University of Auckland) c.shore@auckland.ac.nz
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Short Abstract

This panel considers exchanges and the ways in which people use material culture to establish identities and negotiate social relations.

Long Abstract

This panel considers exchanges and the ways in which people use material culture to establish identities and negotiate social relations.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Plasticization and its Discontents: The Alchemy of Waste in the Construction of China's Capitalist-Communist Identity.

Author: Alison Hulme alisonhulme@live.co.uk

Short Abstract

The waste of the West is being turned into gold; rubbish is hot property in the dump towns of Shanghai's suburbs. Through networks of recycling factories, manufacturers and literal and virtual trade fairs China's capitalist-communism is developing faster than any known economy. How is this new identity materialized through the 'China price' object? When profit is made from excess, what are the discontents?

Abstract

This paper examines the ways in which western 'waste' is providing valuable raw materials for the Chinese economy; how this waste is then re-sold to the west in the form of commodities at 'China price', and how other types of waste emerge in the form of pollution. It will therefore examine how waste is re-appropriated as a valuable resource in a globalising world and how the discontents of such an alchemy involve collateral damage and raise new social, political and ecological risks. It will also tackle issues of identity. I will discuss how people and places gain identity through products due to the concentration of highly specified skills in certain areas; how the creation of 'value' through material things is impacting upon older traditions and networks; and how loss of identity means rural practices are transposed (normally with terrible consequences) to urban situations. The 'dump towns' of Shanghai will be explored here as a case study of the influx of rural peasant farmers to urban areas and livelihoods. Finally, this paper attempts to understand how, despite embroilment in free-market economics, manufacturing in China retains benefits through agglomeration practices rather than economies of scale, and how this relates to the desire to create and portray capitalist-communism.

Appropriation, obligation and exchange in East Timor.

Author: Andrew McWilliam (Australian National University) andrew.mcwilliam@anu.edu.au

Short Abstract

The collapse of the market economy and most employment opportunities that accompanied the withdrawal of Indonesia from East Timor in 1999 has prompted the revitalisation of customary exchange practices that were heavily attenuated during the Indonesian interregnum (1975-99). With a focus on the indigenous Fataluku speaking communities of far-eastern Timor, this paper explores the character of social exchange relationships as forms of mutually appropriated debt obligations.

Abstract

The collapse of the market economy and most employment opportunities that accompanied the withdrawal of Indonesia from East Timor in 1999 has prompted the revitalisation of customary exchange practices that were heavily attenuated during the Indonesian interregnum (1975-99). For many Fataluku communities, the strict internal security regime that accompanied military occupation, curtailed opportunities for enacting the vital exchange relationships that inform and reproduce social relations between kin, affines and ancestors. As they rebuild their lives in a now independent East Timor, a renewed attention to exchange and the reciprocal flow of gifts, goods, labour and blessings is once again engaging Fataluku households in culturally intensive relations of exchange and obligation. In this context ideas of ownership and appropriation are constitutive elements of social constructs and entitlement.

Satisfaction in a horse: The assimilation of an exotic animal into Māori customary usage

Author: Hazel Petrie (University of Auckland) h.petrie@auckland.ac.nz

Short Abstract

Horses were unknown in New Zealand prior to the arrival of Europeans. But within a very short time, they were assimilated into ‘customary’ Māori usages. This paper will consider the significance that came to be attached to horse ownership, in gifting, and especially as a fine for adultery.

Abstract

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, New Zealand Māori had only two species of mammal: the dog and the kiore. Yet within a very short period of time, introduced horses were not only prized possessions but also had spiritual significance and featured in 'customary' practice. Like sailing vessels, they were frequently demanded as items of exchange in land transactions or removed by taua muru (punishing raids) but it is particularly notable that, from about 1840, horses became something of a standard fine for the serious crime of adultery.

An 1849 dispute between shareholders in a trading vessel, jointly owned by sections of Te Arawa, illustrates the process in which the communal nature of Māori society, proprietary rights, and perceptions of ownership were transformed towards more individualist ones through the agency of Christianisation and British law. However, it is also one of several examples where demanding horses as payment for an act of adultery was described as being a customary response. Tohi Te Ururangi, a Ngāti Whakaue leader of great mana, attempted to mediate in this incident, advising government that he had demanded the horse on three separate days 'according to the right of the law'. On various other occasions, too, the 'fine' for adultery was agreed to be a certain number of horses.

This paper represents a tentative consideration of the significance accorded to horses in the years following their introduction into New Zealand and will discuss some of the ways in which they were incorporated into Māori usages.