Returning The Gift: A Case for Andean Reciprocity as a Foundation of Archaeological Research Design

Lecture: ARF Brownbag | October 11 | 12-1 p.m. | 101 2251 College (Archaeological Research Facility)

 Kat Huggins, Anthropology, UC Berkeley

 Archaeological Research Facility

A deep-reading of ethnographies from archaeological research areas frequently leads to the adoption of indigenous terms and, in that process, re-assessment or abandonment of broader terminology from western anthropological canon. This process of reinterpretation can also be a chance to review archaeological praxis in the communities we work in. Reviewing our archaeological praxis means that while we recognize the importance of indigenous terms in our results, we also recognize that we have a position relative to these terms, which are often structuring principles in our research areas. Such structuring principles were described by Mauss as “total social phenomenon”, and in his work The Gift, Mauss describes how the Melanesian system of gift-exchange permeates a multitude of cultural dimensions, including (importantly) the moral dimension. This presentation outlines first the benefits of Mauss’ proposition of total social phenomenon, but goes on to critique and reject the widespread use of Mauss’ model in the Andean region. Following this, I explore how integrating an Andean Reciprocity model at the first stages of research design has augmented my proposed contextual models, analysis and documentation methodologies, and future dissemination plans for work in Chiripa, Bolivia, and the wider Andean region.