Aiming to redefine the concept of wealth, which has too often been reduced to merely ‘accumulated assets’, this book views wealth primarily as a question of reproduction, relational flows and life vitality. The authors therefore outline wealth as a triangular phenomenon between capital, the commons and power.
Viewing wealth as firstly a product of relational capacities, the book explores the processes wherein it is constantly being pulled at from forces that demand appropriation, be that finance, community or state. The chapters tackle perceptions (and practices) of wealth in the commons, in mythical narrative, immaterial substance, aristocratic orders, antimafia, money real and imagined, and conspiracy theory, with contributions from Melanesia, Italy, Greece, India and Mongolia. The comparative perspective lies at the heart of the book, bringing together instances of commonwealth and the commons, as well as hierarchical, relational and substantial understandings of wealth.
As the first collection in recent decades to address the anthropology of wealth openly in a comparative perspective, this book will spark discussions of the concept in anthropology, not least at the back of a renewed debate over it due to Piketty’s legacy. This book was originally published as a special issue of History & Anthropology.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction to an anthropology of wealth Theodoros Rakopoulos and Knut Rio
2. Entropy, alchemy and negative pigs: Obviating the matter of wealth Robert J. Foster
3. An economic theology of wealth: A perspective from central India Chris Gregory
4. Commonwealth, inalienable possessions, and the res publica: The anthropology of aristocratic order and the landed estate David Sneath
5. Commonwealth: On democracy and dispossession in Italy Andrea Muehlebach
6. Where do we go when we follow the money? The political-economic construction of Antimafia investigators in Western Sicily Naor Ben-Yehoyada
7. Show me the money: Conspiracy theories and distant wealth Theodoros Rakopoulos
8. Tolai tabu as wealth and money: A shifting and unstable distinction Keir Martin
Theodoros Rakopoulos is Associate Professor in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo, Norway. He is author of From Clans to Co-ops: Confiscated Mafia Land in Sicily (2017), and editor of The Global Life of Austerity: Comparing Beyond Europe (2018).
Knut Rio is Professor in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen, Norway. He is author of The Power of Perspective: Social Ontology and Agency on Ambrym Island, Vanuatu (2007); and co-editor of books on Oceania, religion and hierarchy, most recently Pentecostalism and Witchcraft: Spiritual Warfare in Africa and Melanesia (with Michelle MacCarthy and Ruy Blanes, 2017).