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Cultural Political Economy


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The functions of giving in societies
Example: Ongka'a Big Moka
- to strengthen relations or to form new ones
- to be used aggressively to fight people to "flatten" them with generosity
-gain position and prestige
-used to place others in debt
(usually strings attached)
Why important to understand cultural gift exchange?
Natives gave gifts and expected an exchange. The point of the gift was not to provide an interesting trinket but to inaugurate a friendly relationship. Europeans and Westerns think that presents ought to be offered freely, w/o strings attached. Failing to acknowledge the cultural differences, especially as we give money, machines, and technical advice to peoples aorund the world, we run the risk of being misinterpreted and, worse, of causing harm.
Example of political exchange
Americans see Gorbachev offers of disarmament and openess as gift with long strings attached. Later Soviet Union accepted American assistance.
Japan spend enormous money putting it ahead of the U.S. and U.S. fears Americna prestige might case a further slip in our international status.
Where does the money go for cocoa?
Not to the Bolivians. It goes to the criminal organizations that smuggle the drugs out of the country; and into the US and Europe
American gift giving idea?
Sometimes takes a benevolent and helpful form and others to create obligations in a hostile way.
Three reasons forest conservation failed in Bolivia.
World demand for tropical hardwoods.
Poverty of people on the Bolivian frontier.
Inability of a poor government to control illegal activities in a remote area.
Why do Bolivian logging companies support illegal logging?
They can increase profits by buying illegal lumber cheaply and claiming it's their own.
Who are the "Cuartoneros"?
Chain saw gangs who illegally harvest lumber in Bolivia.
Two motives for the Bolivian government to try to control the lumber industry.
Alarm at the wholesale destruction of the forest, and
Concern over lost revenue since they can't tax the illegal logging.
What is "clear-cutting"?
Practice of cutting everything down in a field for agriculture.
The plan by the International Tropical Timber Organization to save the Bolivian forest was to _________________________
Cut a variety of commercial species on a rotating basis that would permit forest regeneration.
Why didn't the loggers follow the plan to rotate cutting different kinds of trees?
More profitable for them to continue to cut only the high value timber such as mahogany.
What motivates the Chimanes Indians to keep doing the very hard work of cutting illegal timber by hand?
Economic necessity; they need money for goods from outside the reservation.
How do Cuartoneros methods of logging differ from the Chimane Indians?
The Chimanes generally log near the river and sell to traders, the Cuartoneros go into more remote areas and take the cut timber out themselves.
What are the motivations of the chain saw gangs?
Relatively high wages, and they are usually in debt and unable to work it off, so have to keep working in that job; a debt/peonage system.
In the book, is illegal logging more or less destructive that approved commercial logging?
Illegal logging is currently less destructive
What is the significance of the methods used by the logging companies, Indians, and Cuarteneros to move lumber to the rivers?
The chain saw gangs clear narrow paths which grow over; the Indians clear ox-cart paths which also grow over, although more slowly; the companies clear wide skid paths that allow erosion and loss of soil.
What was a political problem with getting the Chimanes to agree to forestry conservation programs?
They had no organized tribal government; the "New Tribes" missionaries had established a Chimanes Council, but many Indians don't think it represents them.
What was the background of the timber companies chosen to work out the forestry conservation program?
They were illegal loggers.
What was the effect of the lumber companies hiring former illegal loggers from the villages and Cuartoneros? Did it reduce illegal logging?
They only hired a few people, so the rest had no way to make money except to continue illegal logging.
What are possible solutions to the illegal logging problem in Bolivia?
Better government control, although that probably won't work;
Reduction in demand, the same as for the drug trade;
Appeal to people's consciences to limit consumption of the lumber;
Some form of crop rotation or replacement.
What role does the frontier nature of the Chimanes Reserve play in the illegal logging?
The government cannot exert control over the area; it's like our "Wild West"
What is the effect on villages of selling drugs to our country?
community older and dominated by women who are left to plant, work, and harvest the fields of potatoes, corn, and fava beans because of losing men to the hardships of growing cocoa.
Cocaine demand from Europe and U.S. affected . . .
the Bolivian cocaine trade has drawn males from the countryside, disrupted communications, destroyed families, unbalanced the local diet, and upset social organization
Explain Ongka Movie?
New Guinea use a system of gift giving called moka as a way of gaining prestige and shaming rivals. The goal: To become a tribal leader, a "big-man." One moka gift in the 1970s consisted of eeveral hundred pigs, thousands of dollars in cash, some cows and wild birds, a truck, and a motorbike. Onga became a big man by exchanging pigs.
Illinois network of exchange?
a practice call swapping: clothes, food, furniture, and the like, is a way of guaranteeing security, of making sure that someone will be there to help out. Wealth comes in spurts.
What is reciprocity
constitutes an important exchange system in every society; means that gifts or favors should be returned at equal value.
Exchange on global scale?
benevolent and aggressive dimensions of gift giving are at work in superpower diplomacy
Example of benevolent gift giving?
gave ox to slaughter at Christmas to !Kung hunter-gathers. !Kung belittle all gifts. Their belief is no act is completely generous, or free of calculation; ridiculing gifts is their way of diminishign the expected return and enforcing humility.
How has the meaning of the term "Indian Giver" changed?
Originally, it meant returning an equivalent present, but now usually means someone who demands the present back.
Why do primitive tribes belittle a gift given to them?
They correctly assume it means the giver wants something, so by belittling it they can reduce the value of what they must give back.
Tribal wars of blood are often replaced by ____________________
Wars of wealth have replaced them
What was the motive behind the Illinois practice of "swapping"?
To ensure that when hard times came, someone who "owed" you would be there to help; also to make sure windfalls were shared in the group
How is "gift giving" practiced in modern academic settings?
By "contributing" articles to journals; no money is received, but it hopefully gains respect for the author (although he can't admit that as a motive)
How do governments use "gift exchange" as a means to increase their power?
By giving gifts, such as large projects, that cannot possibly be repaid. They are looked on as benevolent and often gain political power over the people in the area.
Why did American politicians worry about an increase in Japanese foreigh aid to countries?
It was a welcome contribution, but might diminish the U.S.'s prestige as the big gift giver.
Foreign aid often produces __________________ in place of actual benefit for the Third World recipient.
relationships of dependency
What often happens to the young men of Bolivia who go off to the city and get involved in the drug trade?
At first they bring back money and food, but later take from the village to feed their habit.
Why do some of the villagers working in cocoa production often get hooked on drugs?
They use narcotics to ease the pain of the hard labor.
The people of Pocona live in a fairly fertile valley; why don't they have a very good diet?
The men have gone, so they can't do the hard work in the fields, and don't have much money, so food like meats from outside are not brought in.

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