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Vital Energy

The Current of Relations

Stephen Gudeman

'Vital energy' is a central idea in the economies of Panama and Colombia. Known as 'strength' or 'force', and assembled from the environment, this current connects all activities in the local economies and establishes relationships, from kin to strangers. Humans compose vital energy, but its sources are limited, and it is expended in use. Its availability is a gift from God and part of the unpredictable fortune that faces everyone. This economy exhibits a contrast between a social current and a market currency. It offers a materialist perspective, provides a critique of standard economics, suggests that sharing rather than reciprocity or rational choice is the 'fundamental' economic practice, and shows how an economy may be a kind of ritual legitimated by a belief in divine power that is displayed through personal fortune.

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Embodied Vibrations

Disastrous Mobilities in Relocation from the Christchurch Earthquakes, Aotearoa New Zealand

Gail Adams-Hutcheson

This article contributes to debates that consider things (buildings) that have previously been assumed to be bounded and fixed. When thinking about how literally anything can become mobile, this article addresses how buildings “live on” through the bodies of participants. The notion of material affects is advanced to draw together a complex set of ideas on vibrant materialities. Material affects, then, entangle the earth, forces, embodiment, and micro mobilities to expose the vibrant matter of buildings. Empirical material is drawn from semistructured interviews with people who relocated out of Christchurch following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes and aftershocks. In relocation, acute spatial awareness and sensitivity to movement and vibration—that is, the minute shudders and flexes of buildings—colonized the bodies of participants. Material affects are able to challenge the distinction between vital energy (life) forces and materiality.