Gifts and Commodities

C. A. Gregory

Gifts and Commodities

C. A. Gregory

Distributed for HAU

With a New Foreword by Marilyn Strathern and an Introduction by the Author

250 pages | 68 line drawings, 3 maps, 58 tables | 6 x 9
Paper $35.00 ISBN: 9780990505013 Published March 2015
C. A. Gregory’s Gifts and Commodities is one of the undisputed classics of economic anthropology. On its publication in 1982, it spurred intense, ongoing debates about gifts and gifting, value, exchange, and the place of political economy in anthropology.

Gifts and Commodities is, at once, a critique of neoclassical economics and development theory, a critical history of colonial Papua New Guinea, and a comparative ethnography of exchange in Melanesian societies. This new edition includes a new foreword by anthropologist Marilyn Strathern that discusses the ongoing response to the book and the debates it has engendered, debates that have only become more salient in our ever-more-neoliberal and evermore- globalized era.

Review Quotes
David Graeber, London School of Economics, author of Debt: The first 5,000 years
“Gregory’s work constitutes probably the single most important body of economic anthropology produced in the last half century. Gifts and Commodities was foundational; with one or two incisive and brilliant interventions, it managed to completely transform the field. It is still seen as a classic, but at the same time, in many quarters, its overall argument remains systematically misrepresented as essentializing or totalizing—in ways that should have been self-evidently false to anyone who had actually taken the time to read the book. This new edition should undo an historical injustice in this regard as a new generation of young scholars will be able to encounter what surely will be remembered as an enduring classic for a very long time to come.”
Choice
“In this reissue of his provocative and widely influential 1982 study, anthropologist Gregory focuses on ethnographic data from Papua New Guinea to challenge economic analyses based on a universalistic and ahistorical ‘theory of goods.’ Instead, he identifies and explains differences between economic systems based on clan-related gift exchange and consumption and those based on class, production, and commodity exchange. In so doing, he disputes the relevance and applicability of neoclassical economic concepts, methods, and theory for the investigation of non-capitalist economic organization and development. Though trained as an economist, Gregory rejects the notion of capitalism as a ‘natural’ form of economic organization. Rather, he follows the models of political economy represented by Quesnay, Smith, and Marx and synthesizes their conceptual foundations with the kinship studies of Morgan, Mauss, and Levi-Strauss to develop a ‘theory of gifts’ in which consumption and reproduction based on social relationships predominate over the role of individualistic production and profit. Although the book is not a revision, the new thirty-three-page preface provides extensive response to works by Appadurai and others and clarifies the major points of Gregory’s analysis. An indispensable part of any collection on economic anthropology or Papua New Guinea. . . . Essential.”
Anthropological Forum
“If we want to move from recording the form of the world that we see to asking ourselves why it has taken that form, this book offers an inspiring approach.”
 
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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