Last update: doc. Veronika Čapská, Ph.D. (01.02.2023)
The course will analyse modes of gift exchange in pre-modern Europe. It strives to de-romanticize our contemporary idealized understanding of gift-giving as a purely altruistic practice. Thus, it will make use of the concepts of social and cultural anthropology and show how gift exchange worked in the societies in which individuals were more vulnerable and more dependent on each other than today. It will draw studentsʼattention to the so-called ego-documents as useful sources for tracing economic behaviour, including the practices and ideas of gift exchange. We will, for example, ask how people in the past communicated through gifts, what steps they took to forge fair exchange deals and to cultivate more balanced relationships. We will explore what people donated most and in what ways their life stages and religious affiliations shaped their perception and practices of giving. We will also pay attention to past representations of greed and generosity.
In April 2023 there will be a guest visit in the course - Dr. Alena Drieschová from the University of Cambridge will come to discuss with us the limits of postcolonial views on eurocentrism and to what extent the "Other" Europe can play a role in criticizing and decentring this concept.
Zoltán Biedermann – Anne Gerritsen – Giorgio Riello (edd.), Global Gifts. The Material Culture of Diplomacy in Early Modern Eurasia, Cambridge 2018.
Natalie Z. Davis, The Gift in Sixteenth-Century France, Madison 2000.
Engin Isin – Ebru Üstündağ, Wills, Deeds, Acts: Womenʼs Civic Gift Giving in Ottoman Istanbul, Gender, Place and Culture 15, 2008, 519–532.
Marcel Mauss, The Gift, London 1990.
Joshua Teplitsky, A “Prince of the Land of Israel” in Prague: Jewish Philathropy, Patronage, and Power in Early Modern Europe and Beyond, Jewish History 29, 2015, 245–271.
Irma Thoen, Strategic Affection? Gift Exchange of Seventeenth-Century Holland, Amsterdam 2006, 9–44.