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Alms, Money and Reciprocity

Buddhist Nuns as Mediators of Generalised Exchange in Thailand

Joanna Cook

In this paper I examine the part that women, in the ambiguous role of Buddhist nun (mae chee), now take in the emblematic Buddhist practice of alms donations. The monastic office of 'mae chee' is complicated. It is conveyed through the ritual adoption of religious vows and is usually undertaken for life. However, mae chee ordination is only partial and its status is far below that of monks. In Thai law mae chee are regarded as pious laywomen (upasikas) and the Department of Religious Affairs does not mention them in its annual report. Even so, because they are said to have renounced the world they do not have the right to vote. Owing to this ambiguity mae chee are able to employ both the ascetic practices of renouncers (such as accepting alms) and those of laywomen (such as offering alms). Mae chee, while debarred from the alms round, both receive alms from the laity and donate alms to monks. Furthermore, mae chee receive monetary alms from the laity on behalf of the monastic community as a whole. I argue that by handling money given to the monastic community mae chee mediate in a relationship of generalised reciprocity between the monastic community and the lay society. By donating alms to monks, mae chee appear to be reaffirming their status of partial ordination, yet in order for them to be able to receive alms donations from the laity they must see themselves, and be recognised by the laity, as an integral part of the monastic community. A nuanced understanding of these economic, religious and gendered roles is crucial to our understanding of the incorporation of women into the monastic community and the ways in which gift practices are related to interpersonal and group dynamics in the context of modern Thai monasticism.

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Maryon McDonald

This issue is quite a milestone: we have reached the thirty-fifth volume of the journal. We will come back to that in the next issue and, to celebrate, there will be a free gift. If there is such a thing… For the moment, our current issue is

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Reading Production and Culture

UK Teen Girl Comics from 1955 to 1960

Joan Ormrod

audience. Much of the content on pop music concentrated on pop stars who often appeared on comics covers, in picture stories, articles and advice pages, biographies, or stories based on stars helping fans find love. The comics included free gifts in the

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‘No Virus Is Stronger than Our Unity’

Shifting Forms of Governmental Intimacies during COVID-19

Senem Kaptan

2020 ). As sociologist and anthropologist Marcel Mauss (2000) has shown us, giving gifts forms a bond between the giver and the receiver, thus creating a relationship of exchange. This, in essence, means that there is no such thing as a free gift

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Contemporary Girls Studies

Reflections on the Inaugural International Girls Studies Association Conference

Victoria Cann, Sarah Godfrey, and Helen Warner

explores the materiality of comics (and, more specifically, the free gifts that readers often received) and the role they played in hailing girl teen audiences. As an aspect often sidelined in many analyses of popular print texts, materiality, as Alison

Open access


Fuelling Capture: Africa's Energy Frontiers

Michael Degani, Brenda Chalfin, and Jamie Cross

formulation, ‘natural elements’ which ‘cost nothing’ are being added into the production process, amounting to ‘free gifts’ to capital (quoted in Bakke 2019: 47 ). Yet, as ecological Marxists (e.g. Foster 1999 ) remind us, Marx's writings also provide tools

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Wal-Mart Goes To Germany

Culture, Institutions, and the Limits of Globalization

Matthias Kaelberer

discounts to the two-week-long winter and summer clearance sales that begin in late January and late July. 43 Similarly, German law prohibits such practices as buy-one-get-one-free purchases, free gifts for purchases or frequent buyer discounts. 44 Used

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Julián Antonio Moraga Riquelme, Leslie E. Sponsel, Katrien Pype, Diana Riboli, Ellen Lewin, Marina Pignatelli, Katherine Swancutt, Alejandra Carreño Calderón, Anastasios Panagiotopoulos, Sergio González Varela, Eugenia Roussou, Juan Javier Rivera Andía, Miho Ishii, Markus Balkenhol, and Marcelo González Gálvez

, debatable hierarchies and layers of possible meanings, both dances and anthropology constitute methodologies, explorations on others and on their concepts” (p. 154). Johannes Neurath's chapter on the co-existence of free gift and reciprocity is another

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Giving and Taking without Reciprocity

Conversations in South India and the Anthropology of Ethics

Soumhya Venkatesan

. Finally, to the people with whom I work, my thanks are boundless. Notes 1 See the debates and discussion on ‘the good’ in Venkatesan (2015) . 2 See Laidlaw (2000) on ‘free gifts’ in the Jain context. 3 The calculations to determine zakat are complex

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Ritual Infrastructure

Roads to Certainty in Two Brazilian Religions

Inger Sjørslev

fortune, a free gift of God or the Holy Spirit, ‘the intimate collaboration and reciprocal intervention of divine power and human freedom’. He goes on to say that the attainment of grace ‘can only be achieved with the cooperation of human will since God