praise for Women and the Gift Economy: A Radically Different Worldview is Possible
Finally! This is the book we urgently need in these neoliberal, destructive, disoriented times. We all know that a profound change in our economy and culture is necessary, that we need to think in another way. But how? The authors of this collection of articles—all feminists, all peace workers, from the North and the South—demonstrate convincingly that “a radically different world view is possible” when we look at the world with Genevieve Vaughan’s radically different paradigm: gift giving instead of the coercive and compulsive exchange paradigm of the market economy.
edited by Genevieve Vaughan
—veronika bennholdt-thomsen, co-author of The Subsistence Perspective: Beyond the Globalized Economy and Women: The Last Colony
Wow, what a great book. If more people could embrace this kind of thinking the world would be a much better place. In the tradition of my people one’s status in society in not based upon how much wealth one possesses and displays but rather it is based upon what one gives away. Thus according to our traditions the creators of this volume deserve special recognition as their work is a gift for the rest of us who have the privilege of reading it.
—d. memee lavell-harvard, President, Ontario Native Women’s Association and Vice President, Native Women’s Association of Canada
Those of us honoured to know Genevieve Vaughan know that, for at least twenty years, she has been working tirelessly towards defining and describing the “gift economy, presenting it as a workable alternative to patriarchal capitalism. This anthology, Women and the Gift Economy, offers the fruit of myriad scholars on the subject, examining the gift economy from nearly every imaginable vantage point—from history, spirituality, sexuality, and matriarchal social structure to language, finance, childcare, and warfare. Moreover, Indigenous scholars working from their own cultures’ ways of knowing receive a representation and a respect equal to what is afforded their European and Euroamerican colleagues. Women
and the Gift Economy is guaranteed to guide the reader into new and invigorating paradigms, clarifying the economic choices facing humanity.
—barbara alice mann, author of Iroquoian Women: The Gantowisas and editor of and contributor to Daughters of Mother Earth
Genevieve Vaughan has for decades been active in progressive causes—generous with her time, energy, and material resources. Now she gives the best gift of all: her elegant, intelligent, and transformative thinking. This is, simply, a visionary book. Read it, let it into your heart and brain—and you will change the world.
The gift economy is prevalent in most ancient Indigenous societies the world over, many still existing today. Gifting operates especially well among people with fewer resources, in rural areas and urban townships. It is through sharing gifts that many of us survive. Genevieve Vaughan’s feminist gift economy is a reminder to all of us about this ancient practice still prevalent in many of our societies, especially in Africa and the global South more broadly, and her life’s work in this area perfectly epitomizes the philosophies underpinning the book: it is the gift economy in practice.
—bernedette muthien, poet and activist, director of ENGENDER, South Africa
This collection, in its critique of patriarchal capitalism and in its call for a logic of gift-giving over exchange, makes possible a new understanding of—and appreciation for—the true economic and social value of mothering. In this, the book is an invaluable contribution to motherhood studies.
—andrea o’reilly, Associate Professor, York University, and author of Toni Morrison and Motherhood: A Politics of the Heart
Based on Genevieve Vaughan’s theory of the gift economy, this book offers a radically different world view for 21st century feminism with powerful implications for challenging patriarchy and the market economy in building a sustainable, safe, equitable world society. In the introduction Vaughan outlines the logic and impact of the gift economy. Vaughan’s approach provides an alternative paradigm in which “mothering” in all the senses of the term is at the foundation of the social model for being human. Together with the articles that follow her introduction,
the book provides a unified feminist philosophy in which the logic of social interaction is based on “gifting” that is, giving to nurture growth by satisfying needs in response to which the receiver models the giver by giving to others. This is a must read for feminists in all countries for it provides a coherent philosophical system based on the power of nurturing for rethinking political and economic thought just as the Enlightenment once based its philosophical innovations on the power of human reason.
—peggy reeves sanday, Professor of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania and author of Women at the Center: Life in a Modern Matriarchy
Anyone who wonders why a tree giving us oxygen is only profitable when it’s cut down, or why a train wreck increases the Gross Domestic Product but nurturing children does not, is on the way to rejecting patriarchal capitalism. Genevieve Vaughan and her collection of essays by activists and visionaries show us an alternate economic worldview that existed for most of human history, and could exist again. This brave and path-breaking book will give you hope—and hope is a form of planning.”
WOMEN AND THE GIFT ECONOMY
A Radically Different Worldview
edited by genevieve vaughan
inanna publications and education inc.
Copyright © 2007 Inanna Publications and Education Inc.
Individual copyright to their work is retained by the authors. All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronically or mechanically, including photocopying, recording, or
any information or storage retrieval system, without prior permission in writing
from the publisher.
Published in Canada by Inanna Publications and Education Inc.
210 Founders College, York University
4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Telephone: (416) 736-5356 Fax (416) 736-5765
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web site: www.yorku.ca/inanna
Printed and Bound in Canada.
Cover Design: Val Fullard
Interior Design: Luciana Ricciutelli
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication:
Women and the gift economy : a radically different worldview is
possible / edited by Genevieve Vaughan
Essays originated at a conference, “A radically different worldview is possible:
the gift economy inside and outside patriarchal capitalism,” held in Las Vegas,
Nevada, November 2004.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Gifts – economic aspects. 2. Matriarchy. 3. Indigenous peoples – Economic
conditions. 4. Sharing – Economic aspects. 5. Mutualism – Economic aspects.
6. Social change. 7. Feminist economics. I. Vaughan, Genevieve, 1939-
HQ1381.W652 2007 306.3’4 C2007-901648-0
I thank Luisa Teish for her opening of the conference with her interactive performance.Thank you to the Indigenous women, Jeannette Armstrong, Louise Benally, Dotti Chamblin, Mililani Trask, and to Patricia Pearlman, who offered their prayers. I want to thank Kaarina Kailo for the title, “A Radically Different Worldview is Possible,” and Mary Nell Mathis for the subtitle, “The Gift Economy Inside and Outside Patriarchal Capitalism.” My heartfelt thanks to all the women who worked on the conference, a challenging project indeed because of its international character and because none of the “crew” lived in Nevada. There were endless details to take care of and snags and miscommunications of all kinds, which had to be dealt with and resolved. I particularly want to thank Sally Jacques, Mary Nell Mathis, Lee Ann LaBar, Liliana Wilson, Jessica Evans, Tobey Penney, Chiquie Estrada, Brackin Firecracker, Sylvia Shihadeh, and the many others who gave their time and expertise to making the event a success. Thanks to Lydia Ruyle for her Goddess Banners with which we decorated the Las Vegas Library auditorium and thanks to Luisa Capelli of Meltemi Press in Rome for sending enough volumes of Athanor: Il Dono/The Gift so that all those in attendance could have one. Thank you to Frieda Werden of WINGS
and Andrea Alvarado of FIRE for their audio recordings of the conference and to Cara Griswold and Becky Hays of Full Circle Productions for videoing the entire event.
Many thanks to Luciana Ricciutelli for her tireless help with the manuscripts and the many versions of the table of contents as well as innumerable details of corrections and revisions.