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This 26th volume of REA focuses on the economics of health and wellness, and in doing so attempts to bring together two fields of research – economic anthropology and public health – that tend not to merge as often as they should. The volume includes 10 chapters that explore the general theme of the economics of health and wellness in an anthropological fashion and in a variety of settings and ways. All of them passed a selection process that included double-blind peer-review, and have been revised to various degrees based partly on the suggestions of the referees. On this note, I would like to extend my gratitude to the various scholars who took time out of their very busy schedules to review manuscripts for this volume. The chapters here all benefited greatly from their anonymous comments and recommendations.
Although Research in Economic Anthropology (REA) actually hit the quarter-century mark in 2003 with the publication of Volume 22, the series has now done so also in terms of the number of volumes. Twenty-five seems like an important milestone, and perhaps this edition can be noted for passing that, but it also marks the third editorial change in the history of REA. When a new editor takes over, it seems prudent to offer a summary of the book series’ evolution to date. As many know, George Dalton was the original editor – beginning in 1978 (REA was then published by JAI Press). Dalton subsequently handed the reins to Barry Isaac, who produced Volumes 6 through 20, along with a number of supplemental publications that focused on specific topics or regions and contained only chapters of an archeological or ethnohistorical nature. In fact, Isaac is still recognized for his efforts at granting archeology an equal footing with ethnology in the study of human economic behavior.1 While Dalton included previously published material in the pages of REA and welcomed works by non-anthropologists, Isaac considered only original manuscripts and generally limited his selection of chapters to those written by anthropologists. Since Volume 20, REA has been published by Elsevier.
This chapter deals with different perspectives and structural transformations between capitalist society and indigenous ways of life. I approach the A’uwẽ-Xavante myth of…
This chapter deals with different perspectives and structural transformations between capitalist society and indigenous ways of life. I approach the A’uwẽ-Xavante myth of the theft of the jaguar’s fire, one of many versions of the story of the bird-nester, which Lévi-Strauss interprets as the acquisition of culture through cooking technique. I compare it with Proudhon’s study on property as the theft of collective force which he treats as the groundwork of the manufacturing process in capitalist society. This highlights the difference between Proudhon’s ideal mutualism, based on free access to means of production and polytechnic education, and the A’uwẽ-Xavante’s acquisition of power and its technical reproduction. Proudhon’s mutualism envisages auto-organization of collective force in cooperative work favoring its collective appropriation by the workers; while in the A’uwẽ-Xavante way of life, there is an off-centered collective force from which technical acquisition is redistributed. In common with Proudhon’s ideal labor mutualism, A’uwẽ-Xavante’s ways welcome outsiders to their means of production of people; but unlike Proudhon’s, this welcome is not for free: they have to prove their generosity and personal commitment to the game.
The “economics of religion” has grown into a new and groundbreaking approach to the study of religious beliefs, preferences, attitudes, belongings, organizations, and dynamics. This chapter circumscribes its epistemological area, outlines some of the major developments in the field, allows place for the presentation of both important theoretical models (market theory, rational choice, supply-and-demand) and crucial criticisms that have been directed toward them. If the “economics of religion” partakes of an attempt to explain religion in ancient or recent history, in the conceptual prism of economics, the general movement known as globalization has accelerated the convergence of economics and cultural/social analysis in religious studies. Anthropology, however, has gone its own way regarding economic issues. It has been somewhat reluctant to espouse the principles of “economics of religion,” even while being convinced of its relevance. Some recent anthropological works on globalization and religion are presented here as examples of this ambivalent contribution of anthropology to the economics of religion in global settings.