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Journal Article

The Defeat of Hierarchy: Gambling as Exchange in a Sepik Society

William E. Mitchell
American Ethnologist
Vol. 15, No. 4 (Nov., 1988), pp. 638-657
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/645511
Page Count: 20

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Topics: Games, Gambling, Ethnology, Cultural anthropology, Betting, Money, Villages, Men, Wealth, Kinship
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Defeat of Hierarchy: Gambling as Exchange in a Sepik Society
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Abstract

Along with the anthropological neglect of negative reciprocal exchange, scant attention has been given to Melanesian exchange systems that work to defeat the construction of hierarchy. Sahlins' classical model of reciprocity is critically examined and a more logically consistent approach offered. Wape gambling is identified as generalized negative reciprocity and interpreted as complementary to the Wape traditional exchange system in the preservation of male egalitarianism from the erosive changes of a capitalist market system. A dialectical model of exchange systems is offered that acknowledges the processual interrelationship between positive and negative reciprocity in the formation of exchange scenarios. [exchange theory, negative reciprocity, egalitarianism, gambling, Papua New Guinea, Sepik]

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