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The gift of nature in Mauss and Derrida


The gift of nature in Mauss and Derrida

Fritsch, Matthias The gift of nature in Mauss and Derrida. Oxford Literary Review . (In Press)

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This essay proposes a reinterpretation of Marcel Mauss’s famous The Gift with a focus on the question as to why gifts obligate recipients. Mauss argues that for the archaic cultures he studies, a donor is not separable from the thing given, so that the recipient also receives some of the donor’s ‘spirit’ that wishes to return to its origin. In my reconstruction, I stress that the donor is not separable from her gift because it is understood to come from her tribe, its tradition and ancestors, as well as from its ‘native soil’ and natural elements, which are taken to be inassimilable by the recipient. I then examine Derrida’s reading of Mauss in view of this unpossessable and the role of natural elements in it. In the face of Derrida’s rejection of Mauss’s foundationalist use of a cyclical nature, I conclude that for both authors nature may not only name the desire for the origin, but also a differential and open-ended force that turns and re-turns in all gifts.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Philosophy
Item Type:Article
Authors:Fritsch, Matthias
Journal or Publication:Oxford Literary Review
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
ID Code:979973
Deposited On:19 May 2015 19:34
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:50
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