The spirit of business

Pawnshops in Ulaanbaatar

in Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale
Lars HøjerDepartment of Cross‐Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen 2300, Denmark,

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Exploring the Mongolian pawnshop institution through the analytical lens of anthropological exchange theory, this article argues that commodification has boosted the flow of dangerous agency and ‘spirit’ by easing the flow and exchangeability of belongings. While the distinction between gifts and commodities appears in Mongolian ethnography, it is neither stable nor definite, and it is argued that commodification at the pawnshop might actually serve to spiritually charge people and objects and thereby enhance their social agency and gift‐like aspects.

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