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The Gender of the GiftProblems with Women and Problems with Society in Melanesia$
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Marilyn Strathern

Print publication date: 1988

Print ISBN-13: 9780520064232

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520064232.001.0001

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Comparison

Comparison

Chapter:
(p.340) 12 Comparison
Source:
The Gender of the Gift
Author(s):

Marilyn Strathern

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520064232.003.0012

Some sense of the variety of social forms is sustained in the running distinction between societies whose exchange systems do and those whose do not produce more kinship. Comparative anthropology misleadingly assumes that all societies struggle with the same givens of nature, so that all social formations appear equivalently and thus holistically organized to the same ends. The oppositions and analogies and encompassments described in this book have been presented as coexistent attributes of a “system” (the Melanesian aesthetic). From a Melanesian perspective, this is what is missing is real time. It has been seen that the benefits of ceremonial gift exchange must be reabsorbed by one or the other partner in order to create a premise for new action. The same could be said of Melanesian knowledge.

Keywords:   comparative anthropology, Melanesian aesthetic, societies, gift exchange

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