By means of squirrels and eggs: Kinship and mutual recognition among the Khmu Yuan of Northern Laos

Rosalie Stolz


This article explores the relevance of an ostensibly unpretentious gift exchange of squirrels and eggs in order to illuminate how asymmetric kin ties among the Khmu Yuan of Northern Laos are realized. Employing the concept of mutual recognition, it will be shown that this particular gift exchange amounts to an act of mutual recognition between asymmetric kin that makes the recognized relationship efficacious vis-à-vis observing others and spirits. The power of the spirits not only to observe but also to intervene in the aftermath of receiving the wrong gift points to the potential drawbacks that this efficacy might have.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/709506