So…..it’s been donkey’s years since I’ve posted anything…..I have been reading, I swear I have….but it’s sort of summertime here in Ireland and I’ve been dashing around trying to find ‘sunshine’. Have you heard of this ‘sunshine’? It is rumoured that sunshine appears in many parts of the world during the summertime. There recently was a news story claiming that this sunshine had been briefly seen on the coastline between Cobh and Kinsale in Cork, but alas, it could not be proven….so, I wait and impatiently scan the gloomy horizon that is my home planet of Eire….
That said, I have been reading (and in fact have finished) the glorious Stone Age Economics by the equally glorious Marshall Sahlins (1972). I’d read bits of it in grad school like everyone else on the anthropological planet, but had not taken the opportunity to read it cover to cover until this summer. Sahlins, in one brief chapter, challenged the way we (anthropologists and archaeologists) had envisioned stone age people. He called them ‘the original affluent society’, remarking that they worked less time than modern people, had more time for their children and their friends and families, were bothered by fewer possessions, and in general led ‘better’ lives. He discusses as well (from a Marxist perspective) the concepts of surplus, trade, social hierarchies, and modernisation.
Like all great educators, Sahlins presents us with increasingly more difficult questions throughout his work. He suggests new understandings of trade and exchange, communication, expression, and this thing we know, love and worship as anthropological fieldwork. That said, READ THIS BOOK. Now.