The reciprocity of giving - a circle to be nurtured

Mark Anspach

The reciprocity of giving - a circle to be nurtured

may sat 26, 2012 - 15.00
teatro Bolognini - Via del Presto, 5
 admission euro 3.00

Giving, receiving, exchanging: from the exchange of blows or insults to the exchange of congratulations or gifts, reciprocity seems to be a constant in human relations. ‘What force is contained in the gift and compels the recipient to reciprocate it?,’ asked the anthropologist Marcel Mauss. He found the answer in the Maoris’ spirit of the gift, but this is only the incarnation of the circle of human interactions. A relationship of reciprocity cannot be reduced to an exchange between two individuals: the relationship asserts itself as transcendent third party. The relationship may be good or bad, the circle virtuous or vicious. Mark Anspach will illustrate the shift from the vicious circle of vengeance to the virtuous one of gift and show, in the light of the current crisis, how the same mechanisms are at work behind the functioning of modern economy.

Mark Anspach, the anthropologist, is originally from California but lives in France and in Italy. He works at the Paris Centre de recherche en épistémologie appliquée, and has studied economy and social science at Harvard before obtaining a Ph.D. in anthropology in Paris and in Literature in Stanford under René Girard, whose writing he has edited. Anspach’s research focus is on the ritual aspects of violence and of exchange, and on social and cognitive mechanisms. Anspach contributes to the journal of MAUSS, the Anti-Utilitarian Movement in Social Science, and keeps a blog on the U.S. Website He has written A buon rendere. La reciprocità nella vendetta, nel dono e nel mercato (2007), and co-authored Che cos’è il religioso? Religione e politica (published by Bollati Boringhieri in 2006) and Cosa significa donare? (with E. Sarnelli, D. Falcioni), published by Guida Editori in 2011.