Homo Donans | Genevieve Vaughan | gift-economy.com

Reproduced from: http://gift-economy.com/homo-donans/

Table of Contents


by Genevieve Vaughan

Download a PDF of Homo Donans

The subject matter of this book – at the intersection between feminism and linguistics, economics, semiotics, and sociology – is a fundamental part of our humanity that we have not seen before, or named as such. Not that people have not studied what they call ‘gift exchange’, but they have not given it that fundamental interdisciplinary place that should occupy. Indeed many have believed that unilateral gift giving does not exist. I consider it both fundamental and commonplace.

The gift has been obscured for many reasons, which we will be discussing. It is strange that anything this important could have been invisible, but perhaps this also gives a measure of the importance of revealing it, not only for academic investigation but for politics. Why are we motivated to harm and egocentrism and why is our compassion dwindling? The answer may be found in the struggle between the parasite and the host, the exchange paradigm and the gift paradigm.

Another way of saying this is that gift giving has been deprived of its meta level. That is why we do not name this important aspect of life. Unilateral gift giving is not the same as unconditional love or gift giving. There are conditions – such as the identification of a need. The other person should not be hostile – in fact the hostility may mean that there is a need – for independence perhaps? – that is greater, and is not being seen by the prospective giver.

The identification of needs and agency for their satisfaction creates meaning, in language and life.

I started working on the idea of communication as gift giving in the 70’s and did not read any of the authors of the Mauss Revue until some time in the late 90’s. I first read Lewis Hyde’s book The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property in 1981, I think. I am saying this to underline that my ideas have grown up independently and from a point of origin mainly outside of academia. I have also tried to practice them in feminist foundation activism for more than 20 years.

Part One: Discovering the Gift Paradigm

  • How I got started
  • The exchange paradigm
  • Subjectivities
  • Patriarchy
  • Hitting
  • Categorizing
  • Other points of view

Part Two: The Gift in Communication

  • Exploring gifts and signs
  • The market, the law, the commons
  • Academic disciplines
  • Mothering and the Gifts of Language*
  • Aspects of the gift logic
  • Material Communication
  • Exchange relations
  • Psychological origins of exchange and patriarchy
  • Manhood script
  • Language as a gift economy
  • Women and Signs*
  • Gender and economics
  • The Paradigms
  • The “manhood script” again
  • Needs, expressed and unexpressed
  • Co-muni-cation
  • The verbal commons
  • Where do words and money come from?
  • The exchange metaform
  • The gift metaform

Part Three: Verbal Gift Giving

  • Tracking gifts and third party relations *
  • More about syntax
  • Conjunctions
  • Articles
  • Translating Language into Numbers: a conjecture
  • Things, words and value
  • Alignment

Part Four: Epistemology and gender

  • Definition, classification, the market
  • Definition, naming and exchange
  • Categorization: a mechanism of oppression
  • Value Commons
  • Epistemology and gender: Knowledge as gratitude
  • The denial of gratitude
  • The construction of common ground
  • Masculation and categorization
  • Masculation and exchange
  • Knowledge and gender
  • Reapplying the incarnated definition of exchange

Part Five: Some Applications

  • Going beyond the rights discourse
  • Equality and self-interest
  • Summing up
  • Essentialism
  • Other variations
  • Recognition
  • Circulation of gifts
  • Nurturing: a process or a common quality?
  • Essential Services
  • Uniting the camps
  • Extending the gift
  • The Gift of Oil
  • The pumps that take the place of the heart

Part Six: Transpositions

  • Weighing the scales
  • Equivalence
  • The Peacock Weight
  • Perspective and the ego (1 and I)
  • The ego and the psychology of property
  • Form and Matter
  • Standards and definitions
  • Tracking and counting money
  • North-South masculation
  • Coins R US
  • Inner Eye point of view
  • May the scales drop from our eyes!
  • Weighing weighing

Part Seven: First Essays

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