Giving and Taking: Anthropology and Archaeology of Circulation and Exchange (ARC2124)

15 credits

In this module we will examine the circulation of things between people and places through the lens of archaeology and anthropology. The exchange of things between people and places has characterised humanity since the earliest of times. However, ‘circulation’ (the general term that encompasses the wide spectrum of forms of human exchange and interaction, from the obsidian and amber trade in antiquity to modern financial transactions) has often been relegated to a secondary role in social analysis. More recently, anthropologists exploring a variety of settings have reconsidered circulation as a productive performance, connected but not limited to the generation and reproduction of both material and immaterial cultural forms of classification, valuation and social experience. Additionally, numerous archaeologists have long been investigating ancient forms of circulation and their constitutive role in prehistoric societies. Yet archaeology is rarely considered in the current debate on circulation as a source of theoretical insight and comparative empirical knowledge. Reading and discussing both anthropological and archaeological texts, we will examine the extent to which this field of inquiry can benefit from interdisciplinary approaches.