HAU

Introduction. Value as theory: Comparison, cultural critique, and guerilla ethnographic theory

Ton Otto, Rane Willerslev

Abstract


The introduction addresses the question of whether it is useful or indeed possible to develop an anthropological theory of value. By way of a Socratic debate, two rather conflicting points of view emerge. On the one hand, it is argued that anthropology can make a major and quite coherent contribution to the issue of value in social theory. On the other hand, it is argued that anthropology, as an ethnographically driven discipline, produces an anti-theory of value. The two perspectives derive from two different visions for anthropology, which differ radically on how they see the relationship of the discipline to other disciplines and to the history of ideas more generally. Where these views converge, however, is on the aim of exploring the potential of value as theory. In both perspectives, value is seen as a powerful concept that can generate new ethnographic questions and insights and can provide a crucial dimension to cultural critique. 


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14318/hau3.1.002