A note from the editor Valuing and giving

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons | © Giovanni da Col. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported. ISSN 2049-1115 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14318/hau3.1.000

A note from the editor Valuing and giving

Giovanni DA COL, Editor-in-chief


HAU enjoys surprising you. We do believe it has been the journal’s trademark since its inception. The Year 2013 begins with three novelties. First, HAU is moving from two gargantuan issues of over five hundred pages each with twenty or more articles to three large yet handy yearly releases. We have resolved to care for you more often and move from two gourmet feasting festivals to a more frequent culinary offer. Second, we have been profoundly dissatisfied with the current state of book reviews in the discipline. Seven-hundred words, or even a short essay, do little justice to a complex work; neither does the standard format allow authors to respond with gratitude to the reviewers’ illuminations or rebut unsympathetic comments. Enter the HAU Book Symposium, a forum for monographs that tackle key debates in the discipline or that, in our opinion, may open up new fields of inquiry or highlight aspects of human sociality that are receptive to the craft of ethnographic theory. We bring in numbers of talented scholars to reflect on these monographs and then invite the authors to respond.

The third novelty is HAU’s first special issue, which is guest-edited by Ton Otto and Rane Willerslev and includes an impressive and original collection of papers. The theme of value is one which has a distinguished anthropological pedigree and finds its most eminent heralds in Louis Dumont, Nancy Munn, Terry Turner, and David Graeber, among others. Questions of value have been stirring much interest in the last decade, yet the discipline lacks a thorough collection exploring the multifariousness and theoretical potential that the concept could mobilize. The high-profile of the contributors and the terrific contribution of this collection obliged us to spread it out in two parts. We trust this volume will attract considerable notice in the discipline, and we imagine many scholars being influenced and enriched by it.

The symposia hosted in this issue of HAU concerns two lines of anthropological inquiry. The first, Sir Geoffrey Lloyd’s Being, humanity and understanding, is interdisciplinary (Lloyd being an eminent classicist and comparative philosopher in the tradition of Marcel Detienne and Jean-Pierre Vernant) and more “continental,” as it were, related to the so-called “ontological turn” in anthropology. Some of the authors we have invited have been engaged marginally in debates about “ontology” in anthropology yet they are known for their sharpness and erudition and could help to define better what the terms of the debate is. We trust this symposium will help clarify some of the more opaque treatments and fuzzy definitions of the plurality of worldviews or “ontologies,” and thus separate the chaff from wheat. We want to keep in the turn what really turns, without having to rediscover the wheel. The second book we chose, Clara Han’s Life in debt, is a profound, timely reflection into issues of intimacy, precariousness, suffering, and indebtness, themes which have engaged American anthropology in the last decade, but have neverthe-less found their continental colleagues less convinced by what has been named by some as a “miserabilist” vision (cf. Kelly, this issue). We attempted to cross some circuits and believe the outcome and the author’s rebuttal is illuminating.

The issue continues with the publication of an outstanding discovery at Johns Hopkins University by Andrew Brazel and Sidney Mintz: an unpublished lecture by Claude Lévi-Strauss on the relation between anthropology and truth. This is followed by two Maussian translations. The first piece, translated by Susan Emanuel and Lorraine Perlman, is a chapter from Alain Testart’s influential critique of the most famous Essai of our discipline by sharply distinguishing the act of giving from the idea of gift. The second translation, by Alice Elliot, with the kind permission and encouragement of Janet Hoskins and the supervision of Rupert Stasch, is Valerio Valeri’s early yet dazzling engagement of Mauss’ “new anthropology,” which would continue to influence the author for the rest of his scholarly production. Finally, we were compelled to reprint Louis Dumont’s Radcliffe-Brown Lecture “On value” to accompany—and didactically support—an outstanding collection on the same theme.

Above all, we conclude with the confidence that we do not have to highlight HAU’s impact and progress on the discipline further—as we did in former editorial notes. The gratitude, however, remains: as Nancy Munn and David Graeber remind us, value arises out of action, and HAU’s value is nothing but the result of collective, ethical, and resolved action of a well-oiled editorial team and a beautiful legion of institutions and sponsors allowing a vision—and value—to be potentiated and diffused.