This collection of articles is the product of an international network of women
who embrace in one way or another the idea of the logic of gift giving as the
basis of a paradigm shift for social change. Many of the women first met each
other at a meeting at the Feminist University in Loten, Norway in 2000. The meeting,
which was organized by Norweigen Berit As and Italian Paola Melchiori, brought
together women from South and North to share their experiences and ideas for
change. Many of the women there were interested in the idea of the gift economy
and became the core of a network which has since met and given presentations
in numerous places around the world, including workshops at the World Social
Forums in Brazil and India.
Gift giving exists in many places but is made invisible by Patriarchal Capitalism.
It has structured viable economies in indigenous cultures. Inside Capitalism
it can be seen in such large-scale phenomena as women's free housework, and the
remittances sent by immigrants to their families in their home countries. A case
can be made that gift giving is the basis of communication. Exchange, giving
in order to receive a quantitative equivalent, is its determined opposite.
The logic of gift giving forms the basis of a paradigm that is radically different
from the worldview based on the logic of exchange. The new/old paradigm, though
unrecognized, is already widespread and could be the basis of a better way of
It is fitting that this collection of articles, which is an expression of the
international women's movement, is published as a volume of Athanor in English
in Italy, with the help of Augusto Ponzio and Susan Petrilli of the University
of Bari.Ý The authors extend their heartfelt thanks for the gift of hospitality
that has welcomed them to these pages. The articles in this issue of Athanor
and ithe very fact of its publication are examples of the collective and collaborative
gift giving that are needed to make a better world.