The Spirit of the Gift
DOI link for The Spirit of the Gift
The Spirit of the Gift book
Marcel Mauss's famous Essay on the Gift becomes his own gift to the ages. Embodying the person of its giver and the hau of its forest, the gift itself, on Mauss's reading, obliges repayment. As gift exchange, the contract would have a completely new political realization, unforeseen and unimagined in the received philosophy and constituting neither society nor State. The receiver is beholden by the spirit of the donor; the hau of a taonga seeks always to return to its homeland, inexorably, even after being transferred hand to hand through a series of transactions. After rendering due tribute and support to Firth's critique of Mauss, J. Prytz Johansen observes that the word hau has a very wide semantic field. If the hau of valuables in circulation means the yield thereby accrued, a concrete product of a concrete good, still there is a hau of the forest, and of man, and these do have spiritual quality.