This book is a collection of eleven essays, each of which analyzes one or more forms of gift-giving, exchange, or ritual use of objects in societies of Polynesia, Melanesia, and Australia. As considered in these essays, objects used in exchange relationships have the capacity to mediate individual relationships and relationships among groups as well as relationships between men and spirits.
By "objects" authors Jeudy-Ballini and Juillerat mean both the utilitarian and the religious, including shell currency, animals, plants, sacred drinks, even enemy heads or imaginary goods. These objects may serve as compensation for services rendered or for women received in marriage; indeed, the object of exchange may be another woman. An object may also be kept in reserve as a precious relic or capitalized as ceremonial gift. Elsewhere the object of exchange may be received from a god or presented as an offering to spirits of the dead. In every case it is the incarnation of an identity — individual or collective.
Contributors to the volume include Francoise Douaire-Marsaudon, Serge Tcherkezoff, Barbara Glowczewski Barker, Marika Moisseeff, Brigitte Derlon, Maurice Godelier, Piere Lemonnier, Stephane Breton, Alban Bensa, and the editors.
"[An] excellent collection of essays… Local ethnographic cases are enriched with comparative and historical materials… The essays offer important new ways to understand relationships between people and objects in rich ethnographic detail." — ANTHROPOS, 2003
"People and Things offers a wealth of provocative case materials" — The Contemporary Pacific
"[T]he collection does an excellent job in demonstrating the important contribution of French anthropology to an understanding of gift exchange, objects and persons." — The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 16:2, 2005