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Gifts and Giving

ANTH 103
Spring 2014 not offered
Certificates: Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory

What is a gift? Our common understanding is that a gift is something given gratuitously and without the expectation of a return (just look the word up in any dictionary). Why, then, upon receiving a gift, do we feel indebted to the giver? And rather than gratuitous, isn't most gift giving occasioned by socially significant events and regulated by relatively rigid rules? This course is an in-depth examination of gift giving as one of the most powerful forces binding individuals and groups in society. Students will become familiar with critical anthropological and philosophical debates about the gift and consider their application to contemporary forms of gift giving in the United States, including international aid, philanthropy, political donations, and new types of giving made possible by recent advances in technology, such as organ donation and surrogacy. We will attend to the economic, political, and gender dimensions of gift giving in their remarkable power to make and break social bonds. Readings will include anthropological and philosophical works by Emerson, Nietzsche, Mauss, Levi-Strauss, Malinowski, Bataille, Irigaray, Derrida, Gayle Rubin, and Janice Raymond, as well as media accounts of particular gift-giving events.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS ANTH
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ANTH)(CSCT)

Last Updated on JUN-15-2024
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