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MC1 Gifts

Gifts

Coordination: Diamantis Panagiotopoulos

Abstract

The research project has focused on a specific dimension of reciprocity concerning acts of giving in which givers and recipients come from different cultural spheres. This type of exchange that included both material as well immaterial ‘gifts’ can be regarded as the most fragile and unpredictable type of reciprocity, given the dissimilar intellectual background of the involved parties. The two sub-projects focused on two different historical settings, applying though a similar transcultural methodology. Their common analytical denominator was the premise that ceremonial giving represented the one side of a fundamentally reciprocal act even in cases of asymmetric relationships. Therefore, their main objective was to define the forms and significance of such “counter-gifts” which in several cases were disguised as commercial goods, privileges, distinctions, and rituals. By doing so, both sub-projects have elucidated processes of asymmetry and change as well as strategies of diversion and conversion in the context of transcultural giving.

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