Stephane Breton, Them and Me

*Interview between Stephane Breton and himself about “Them and Me” as translated by google into English:

*”What is a Body” exhibition held in musée du quai Branly (umm.. museum in France?): “the team of anthropologists led by Stéphane Breton demonstrates that no human society looks upon the body as an entity of strictly individual thought and action. The body is, in fact, seen in different cultures as semi-finished product that must be socially completed by a relationship with something else.”

*Conversation with Stephane Breton about “What is a body” exhibition and “Them and Me” film. He also discusses why he chose film, which he says is “of the essence,” in exploring the subject matter: the relationship between anthropologist and “informants.” Click on link, which takes you to a blog; under “October 17” click on “Listen to the conversation” link:

*I’m sure no one wants to read the whole article, and anyway CEU must give access somewhere, but if anyone wants my barcode to access the article on JSTOR, let me know.

social body and icon of the person: a symbolic analysis of shell money among the Wodani, western highlands of Iran Jaya

by Stephane Breton

A shell belonging to the species Cyprea moneta, commonly referred to as a cowry, is used by the Wodani of Irian Jaya for all sorts of ritual and economic transations. In their universe, where the existence of the sea is unknown, the kipe (cowry) is the only object not of human creation that can be found no place other than in human hands. They say that shells and humans, from the very beginning, have always been together: “Men arrived, kipe arrived.” Among all the objects they know, tehre is no other whose existence is strictly social.
The kipe is used as a means of payment in all kinds of exchanges, from bridewealth and blood price to compensation for ritual services, as well as more mundane transations such as the purchase of pigs, salt, manugactured objects, and sometimes even labor. Being a general medium of exchange–to a point rarely attained by traditional currencies–it is money in the strict sense. In this article, however, my ain is to show that the economic function of the kipe is symbolically determined by its agency in the reporduction of human lfie and society. Thus, as a ritual and symbolic instrument, the shell money fulfills its role as a standard of value (see Godelier 1996).


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