Anthropology Seminar Series
Chinese Economies in an Ethnographic Perspective
Professor Andrew Kipnis
9:30am - 11:00am
15 Mar 2017
Room 1.13, Coombs Extension (8), Fellows Road, ANU
The classic work of J.K. Gibson-Graham (1996) begins from the premise that economies are diverse. Even “capitalist” economies involve a huge diversity of economic processes—from housework to slave labour, from gift giving to wage labour, from state redistribution to non-profit businesses, from self-employment to gambling. This paper examines the economic transactions involved in contemporary urban Chinese funerals. It groups these transactions into economic categories based upon the moral rules invoked by those participating in the transaction, the types of trust or distrust the transactions involve and the forms of legal ambiguity which simultaneously enable and restrict a given transaction. Five types of economies emerge: an inter-household gift economy, an intra-household inheritance economy, a state redistributive economy, a small scale petty-trader economy and a large scale state-bureaucratic/capitalist economy.