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  • What does Malinowskis classic study of the Kula Ring suggest about ways in which commodities can be used as tools for expressing social and cultural identity How have subsequent anthropological studies challenged or supported his ideas

What does Malinowskis classic study of the Kula Ring suggest about ways in which commodities can be used as tools for expressing social and cultural identity How have subsequent anthropological studies challenged or supported his ideas - Essay Example

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What does Malinowskis classic study of the Kula Ring suggest about ways in which commodities can be used as tools for expressing social and cultural identity How have subsequent anthropological studies challenged or supported his ideas

The participants of this ceremony travel hundreds of miles in canoes in order to exchange shell necklaces and armbands, natively called soulava and mwali respectively. These ceremonial gifts are always circulated in opposite directions, i.e. necklaces are circulated clockwise while armbands, on the other hand, circulate anticlockwise (Zeigler, 2012, p.15).
Kula is a highly complicated institution involving strict rules regarding traditional transactions, as well as elaborated magical rituals and ceremonies held on public level. However, the gifts exchanged are not in any way considered valuable in its worth, though these gifts were treasured as a connection to social circles. Kula involves a number of classes of gifts that defines one’s social status and ranking. Kula ring can somewhat be regarded as a trade but here an individual gives away an item of greater value as compared to what he receives (MacLeod & Scott, 2001; O’Neill, 2008).
The debate regarding the Kula ceremony of exchanging “useless” things as gifts and economic trade of “useful” commodities has paved way for a number of complex economic models. However, Kula, in its essence, is a trade system which is developed and strengthened by the ceremonial gift exchanges. Kula helps in paving way for commodities trade by nourishing peaceful social relations among the villages whose individuals take part in the ceremony.
In the course of Kula expeditions, smooth trade of commodities and utilitarian items takes place as the individuals travelling for Kula exchange are accompanied by their village or tribe people for the very purpose of carrying out trade. Therefore, the Kula exchangers act as ambassadors of peaceful social community and trade system. The trade goods are shipped back and forth in the course of Kula gift exchange. However, the trade never takes place between the Kula partners but the trade only takes ...Show more
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Summary

Bronislaw Kasper Malinowski (1884-1942), a renowned anthropologist, studied the indigenous cultures of Trobriand Islands, especially their economic activities. In his ethnographic work called “An Account of Native Enterprise and Adventure in the Archipelagos of Melanesian New…
What does Malinowskis classic study of the Kula Ring suggest about ways in which commodities can be used as tools for expressing social and cultural identity How have subsequent anthropological studies challenged or supported his ideas
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