In anthropology, resources are commonly defined in terms of neo-classical theories of action. In order to widen this anthropological definition, a distinction between two ‘fields’ is introduced in this article: the ‘social field’ and the ‘cosmic field’. It is argued that both fields may be completely separate and express a pluralistic configuration of values, or they may form a more or less monistic field. These ideas are applied to a conflict about bauxite-rich mountains in Odisha, India, in which those involved have quite different concepts of resources. It is argued that politicians and mining companies, as well as their national and international opponents, separate and even oppose the social and the cosmic fields on the basis of conflicting values. In contrast, it is argued that for the local people named Dongria Kond, the mining companies endanger a cultural system of exchange and provisioning that maintains an undifferentiated socio-cosmic field based on the value of life-giving ‘wealth’.
ROLAND HARDENBERG is Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, University of Tübingen. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork on divine kingship in the temple town of Puri, India (1995–1996), on sacrifices and marriages among shifting cultivators in the highlands of Odisha, India (2001–2003), and on funerals and graveyards of formerly nomadic people in the Tian Shan mountain range in Kyrgyzstan (2007–2008). His research interests include ritual studies, kinship, exchange systems, and forms of social organization. He is presently Vice-Speaker of the Collaborative Research Center (SFB 1070 ResourceCultures) and the leader of a research project dealing with religious resources in South and Central Asia; email@example.com.