A section, in part, in sum of chapter seven . . .


Fieldwork photo (2008): Gathu carting our monthly load of shopping from the airstrip to the Green House at Top Camp.


‘In the seventh chapter I consider the body of material covered in previous chapters as a ‘local theory’ of exchange in its own right[1]the local Yolŋu theory of exchange. Rather than describe and analyse this local material (or local body of knowledge) in terms of relevant anthropological models or schemes of exchange, I will consider them comparatively on equal terms (or at least ‘as equal terms’ as possible).

As the reader will appreciate, the Yolŋu case appears to be a classic example of ‘gift exchange’ (as per Mauss and later ‘Neo-Maussian’ models) with striking similarities to Sahlins’ now classic typology of ‘generalised reciprocity.’ Indeed, in many respects, it would not be inaccurate to describe or characterise Yolŋu exchange in this way – as an example of gift exchange, in which ‘generalized’ or ‘delayed reciprocity’ predominates.

But what of the spirit of exchange? (This is, after all, an ethnography of emotion and morality toward a local theory of value and exchange.) What of Sahlins’ continuum of forms as a moral scheme of sociability? As the material in this chapter will show, key points of difference emerge once one begins to consider the evaluative, affective-moral dimension of exchange – which requires a comparative consideration of relevant terms and concepts associated with affect and morality in interpersonal exchange.’



[1] I use exchange, throughout the thesis, in the broadest sense of the term –  to refer to social exchange in all its modes and mediations including interaction and interlocution, and exchanges that do, and do not, involve the transfer of material goods. Generally speaking I use ‘interpersonal exchange’ to refer to more immediate forms of interaction between people in the same place and time; I use ‘social exchange’ in a broader sense, to refer to exchanges between any number of persons – including those between collectivities or groups. Social exchange may also take place between persons removed in place and time. In short, these terms point to differences of scale and social distance.


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