To give, to accept and to reciprocate – according to Marcel Mauss’ famous essay “The Gift”, the conjunction of these three activities is the basis of social and cultural life. This claim is increasingly being discussed not only by cultural and social anthropologists, but by a wide range of authors in philosophy, sociology and beyond. While sociologists following Bourdieu or Caillé concentrate on symmetrical gifts, philosophers in the tradition of Derrida, Marion or Hénaff are debating the asymmetry of relations based on gifts. Either way, the evolving gift-paradigm is used in many fruitful ways to challenge both rationalist and normativist theories of action and society.
From different angles, the Masterclass discusses the claim that modern societies depend on their ability to constitute and reproduce social relations through giving and recognition. Apart from the market and the state, giving and reciprocating have to be considered basic principles of association: Whether in face-to-face interaction, in associations of civil society, in networks of all kinds, alternative economies, intergenerational relations or arrangements of the welfare state. It is widely acknowledged that various types of gift-giving play a central role. Beyond these issues, the Masterclass will also ask the question of the role the logic of the gift plays on the level of global cooperation. Can the gift generate an anti-utilitarian basis for forms of international recognition and solidarity (e.g. in development cooperation, international philanthropy or debt reliefs)?
Where do relations based on the gift underlie, strengthen or disrupt markets and hierarchies? What exactly is the place of gifts in a range of social relations? What is the role of an ethics of gift-giving in the context of urgent global challenges?
Frank Adloff (University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany)
Alain Caillé (University of Paris-Nanterre, France)
Elena Pulcini (University of Florence, Italy)
Ilana Silber (Bar Ilan University, Israel)
Anne Warfield Rawls (Bentley University, USA)
The Masterclass will take place at Zeche Zollverein in Essen. This former mining complex is a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the venues of Ruhrtriennale Festival of the Arts, several events of which will be integrated into the Masterclass. Accomodation will be provided near the venue of the Masterclass.
Participants are required to contribute 300 Euro, which covers receptions, lunches and accommodation, but excludes tickets for cultural events. Participants’ travel expenses will be reimbursed up to 500 Euro.
We invite doctoral and postdoctoral students from various disciplines including the social sciences, philosophy, anthropology and cultural studies to apply. Participants are required to present a paper on theoretical or empirical aspects of the overall topic of the gift. Papers focusing on the implications for global cooperation are especially welcome.
Applications should include a short CV and an abstract of 1 – 2 pages. Please submit applications by e-mail with (up to two) pdf attachments to:
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