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Course, academic year 2022/2023
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Historical Anthropology of Gift Exchange - YBAJ160
Title: Historical Anthropology of Gift Exchange
Guaranteed by: Programme Liberal Arts and Humanities (24-SHVAJ)
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities
Actual: from 2022
Semester: summer
E-Credits: 4
Examination process: summer s.:
Hours per week, examination: summer s.:0/2, MC [HT]
Capacity: unknown / 15 (15)
Min. number of students: unlimited
Virtual mobility / capacity: no
Key competences:  
State of the course: taught
Language: English
Teaching methods: full-time
Teaching methods: full-time
Note: course for students of another faculty
course can be enrolled in outside the study plan
enabled for web enrollment
Guarantor: doc. Veronika Čapská, Ph.D.
Teacher(s): doc. Veronika Čapská, Ph.D.
Class: Courses available to incoming students
Incompatibility : YMHA44
Is incompatible with: YMHA44
Annotation - Czech
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. Literature 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.
Course completion requirements
Last update: doc. Veronika Čapská, Ph.D. (25.02.2022)

Course Requirements:

Class Attendance (max. 2 absences)

Active Participation in Class

Reading of Assigned Texts for Every Class

One In-Class Presentation of Assigned Reading (article/chapter analysis and contextualisation)


Reading materials will be available in the SIS (Student Information System).

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