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Making the Modern PrimitiveCultural Tourism in the Trobriand Islands$
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Michelle MacCarthy

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824855604

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824855604.001.0001

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Cashing In on Culture

Cashing In on Culture

The Meaning of Money in Tourist–Trobriand Transactions

(p.189) Chapter Eight Cashing In on Culture
Making the Modern Primitive

Michelle MacCarthy

University of Hawai'i Press

Here, the role of money is examined in tourist-Trobriand transactions. This includes a close examination of what money comes to mean for each side, based on their own experiences with money and exchange, and their (often very inaccurate) ideas about what money is and means for the cultural Others they exchange with in tourism. The role of money vis à vis other kinds of exchange in the Trobriands is described, and a revisiting of the gift/commodity distinction is taken up. Tourists’ idealization of the gift economy mean, I argue, that they try to downplay the commodity status of the things they buy from Trobrianders, who likewise are happy to generate a “relationship” to give social meaning to transactions, even as these are fleeting.

Keywords:   money, exchange, gift, commodity, embeddedness, singularities, kula

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