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Sacrifice and the Commodity Form in the Andes

Peter Gose
Man
New Series, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Jun., 1986), pp. 296-310
DOI: 10.2307/2803161
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2803161
Page Count: 15
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Sacrifice and the Commodity Form in the Andes
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Abstract

For Andean culture, sacrifice is a necessary consequence of production, property and power, and an important idiom of social cohesion. Any relationship of tribute involves sacrifice because wealth is not alienable from the body, but a part of its vitality. The social model provided by Andean sacrifice exists in a motivated opposition to commodity exchange. By denying alienability, it negates a basic premiss of possessive individualism. Rather than individuate people and mediate their association through things, sacrifice deindividuates through the annihilation of the mediating object. In this precise inversion of the commodity form, Andean culture does not resist capitalism, but expresses a profound historical experience of its dark side.

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