HomeThe social link in view of the circulation of Goods, People and Capital

The social link in view of the circulation of Goods, People and Capital

Le lien social au regard de la circulation des biens, des personnes et des capitaux

Singleton Symposium 2017

Chaire Singleton 2017

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Published on Monday, November 28, 2016 by Elsa Zotian


The subject of the Singleton Symposium for this year 2017 will be “The social link in view of the circulation of Goods, People and Capital”. The “gift” is one of the most enduring theoretical concepts in social sciences. Its primary meaning (understood as ‘giving without expecting reciprocation’) has evolved over many years of debate, particularly in anthropology. This idea has been discussed through many types of transactions, such as exchange, transmission, collaboration, cooperation, offering, sacrifices, ... This symposium has been created to take a new look at the relationship between goods, people, and capital in circulation. With great care taken to avoid too exclusively theoretical debates, the colloquium will focus on detailed descriptions of fieldworks and empirically founded data. It will also favour socially, historically or culturally situated analysis.



The “gift” is one of the most enduring theoretical concepts in social sciences. Its primary meaning (understood as ‘giving without expecting reciprocation’) has evolved over many years of debate, particularly in anthropology. This idea has been discussed through many types of transactions, such as exchange, transmission, collaboration, cooperation, offering, sacrifices, ... Because it is just in the middle of economics and social matters, and because it brings along normativity and intentionality, the gift is a conceptual tool which can constantly invent and re-invent itself.

This symposium has been created to take a new look at the relationship between goods, people, and capital in circulation.

Because of the increasing number of intermediaries in transfers, but also because of the commodification of numerous business areas (extended now to individuals or virtual realities for example), and the generalization of the tensions between the local and the global, the circulation and the connection of people and objects must adapt ceaselessly.

It is therefore urgent to understand the transformation of the social ties in the context of what is called “globalization”, as well as the new modes of circulation.

This symposium will focus on what can force or motivate different kinds of transaction (gift, exchange, distribution, collaboration…). The purpose of this discussion is to look at the actors’ intentions beyond their moral qualities (altruism or individualism). In other words, we aim at including contextual specificities as well as at understanding new social processes, both generally blurred when the gift is confined to gratuity, selflessness and generosity.

After highlighting what flows and what stopped flowing (in terms of human beings as well as the non human, the objects, the ideas, the knowledge, etc.), the aim will be to analyze the impacts of the present transactions on the social groups and the commonality.

With great care taken to avoid too exclusively theoretical debates, the colloquium will focus on detailed descriptions of fieldworks and empirically founded data. It will also favour socially, historically or culturally situated analysis.

The symposium will be divided in four sections :

Axis 1 : Institutions and perversion of the social link

The first axis focuses on transactions involving intermediary actors. Considering the intensification of the power struggles and the reinforcements of the movements of globalization, is it still accurate to talk about gifts intended to create or maintain the social cohesion? Are we not rather witnessing more and more perverted gifts (understood here in its literal meaning, with the Latin root « pervetere »: to turn upside down, to overturn, to reverse) intended to submit its receivers, thus transforming the essence of the bonds of the societies? Do the explicit goals and strategies imagined by international charitable or humanitarian organizations, by the financial and banking organisms (Cash Transfer, Pay Pal…), or even by several political groups create bonds? If yes, of what type? Do these strategies facilitate the emergence of social organizations? Do these transactions carry along new issues, independent from the donors and receivers? Could they be involved in the emergence of new tensions, defiance and the destruction of the organizational heritage of the societies because of corruption, clientelism and processes of allegiance? In several contexts, isn’t the circularity of the gift disappearing in favour of linear (or unambiguous) exchanges, immediacy, thus worsening inequalities and justifying predatory strategies?

Axis 2 : Social statuses, Relationship and Transfers

Giving, exchanging or taking imply specific relations between protagonists, distinct statuses and roles. Whether the initiatives are reciprocal or unilateral, symmetrical or asymmetrical, they involve considering the other as being either a partner or a rival, a subordinate or an alter ego, someone close or distant, familiar or alien.
This axis deals with the social, political and cosmological logics that govern the circulation of goods between people and groups. What are the strategies beyond the transfers (social/political rise, obedience, alliance, ...)? What relational stakes do they imply? What kind of ties are the modalities based on (gift, exchange, distribution, collaboration, …)? On what hierarchical structures do they rely? The modification of the relations between protagonists (human and non-human) will be explored, as well as the actions that realize these relations, with an emphasis on what circulates (and/or does not) between them.
The first aim of this panel is to document different forms of transfers and relations in a variety of cultural contexts. But it is also theoretical, in the sense that the universal reach of the concepts « gift » and « exchange » will be exemplified and questioned.

Axis 3 : Body, gift and transaction

The body – its fluids, biological heritage, organs, attributes, etc. – will be discussed regarding the multiple transactions it is involved in:
For instance, in the field of sexuality, the de-personification of the body can be studied. In this case, its mobility can be linked to the economic-sexual trade when it becomes a medium of exchange (prostituted, sold, negotiated, borrowed, etc.). In the context of the aesthetic and advertising, the body can be seen as the mobile support of imaginaries, conveying representations of power, beauty and success. Finally, the medical body is at the core of vital issues when it comes to organ circulation or blood donation.
In other words, this axis seeks at highlighting new forms of circulation of the body, of its representation and its circulation, in each of its aspects.

Axis 4 : Transmission, inheritance, family et migrations

This last axis tackles the acceleration of the circulation of people and its influence on family, kinship and forms of transmission. Within the families for whom distance is a routine, how are the exchanges of commodities and information organized? What are the bonds between the members like? How do gifts and debts articulate with one another; how do memory and transmission work, despite the spatial and temporal obstacles? At the centre of this axis are placed the notions of heritage and inheritance, exchanges that have been initiated several generations before, and the creation – as well as the preservation – of the long-distance relationships between individuals and families.

Submission guidelines

Paper proposals must be submitted

before January 15th, 2017 at midnight.

They must include: a title, an abstract no longer than 250 words, in French or in English, contact details and home institution.

Inscriptions are free but mandatory: before April 1st, 2017

Dates of the symposium: May 3, 4 and 5, 2017, Louvain la Neuve

Information, contacts and sending of the proposals at:


Associated research centres

  • Laboratoire d’anthropologie prospective (LAAP, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique),
  • Laboratoire de Recherches Historiques (LaRHis, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique),
  • Laboratoire d’Anthropologie des Mondes Contemporains (LAMC, Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgique),
  • Unité de Recherches de Philosophie Politique (Université de Liège, Belgique).

Scientific committee

  • Thomas Bierschenk, (Université de Mainz, Allemagne),
  • Clément Crucifix (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique),
  • Laurie Daffe (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique),
  • Jean-Frédéric de Hasque (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique),
  • Édouard Delruelle (Université de Liège, Belgique),
  • Christine Grard (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique),
  • Sten Hagberg (Université de Uppsala, Suède),
  • Frédéric Laugrand (Université Laval, Canada),
  • Pierre-Joseph Laurent (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique),
  • Jacinthe Mazzocchetti (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique),
  • Anaïs Misson (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique),
  • Silvia Mostaccio (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique),
  • Nosta Mukirania Kahambu (Université catholique du Graben, République Démocratique du Congo et Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique),
  • Pierre Petit (Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgique),
  • Caroline Sappia (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique),
  • Olivier Servais (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique),
  • Lionel Simon (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique),
  • Aurore Vermylen (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique),
  • Anne-Marie Vuillemenot (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique),
  • Pierre-Yves Wauthier (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique).

We are pleased to welcome

Alain Caillé, Université Paris X-Nanterre, France
Edouard Delruelle, Université de Liège, Belgium
Erwan Dianteill, Université Paris-Descartes, France
Jacques Godbout, INRS-Université du Québec, Canada
Anne Gotman, Université Paris-Descartes, France
James Greenberg, University of Arizona, USA
Élodie Lecuppre-Desjardin, Université de Lille 3, France
Raphaël Liogier, Université d’Aix-en-Provence, France
Bill Maurer, University of Irvine, USA
Basile Ndjio, Université de Douala, Cameroun
Nancy Scheper-Hughes, University of California, USA

Further bibliography

  • Abélès, Marc. 2002. Les nouveaux riches. Un ethnologue dans la Silicon Valley. Paris : Odile Jacob.
  • Caillé, Alain. 2005. Don, intérêt et désintéressement : Bourdieu, Mauss, Platon et quelques autres. Paris : La Découverte.
  • Caillé, Alain. 2007. Anthropologie du don. Paris : La Découverte.
  • Derrida, Jacques. 1991. Donner le temps. Paris : Galilée.
  • Dickenson, Donna. 2009. Body Shopping: Converting Body Parts to Profit
  • Godbout, Jacques. 2000. Le don, la dette et l’identité. Homo donator vs homo oeconomicus.
  • Paris : La Découverte/M.A.U.S.S..
  • Godbout, Jacques. 2007. Ce qui circule entre nous : donner, recevoir, rendre. Paris : Le Seuil.
  • Godelier, Maurice. 2008. L’énigme du don. Paris: Flammarion.
  • Gregory, Christopher. 1982. Gifts and Commodities. Londres: London Academic Press.
  • Guilhot, Nicolas. 2006. Financiers, philanthropes : sociologie de Wallstreet. Paris : Raisons d’agir.
  • Jorion, Paul. 2016. Le prix. Paris : Flammarion.
  • Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 2009. Les structures élémentaires de la parenté, Presses Universitaires de France (1949)
  • Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 2012. Introduction à l’oeuvre de Mauss. Paris : Presses Universitaires de France.
  • Liogier, Raphaël. 2016. Sans emploi. La condition de l’Homme postindustriel. Paris : Les Liens qui Libèrent.
  • Malinowski, Bronislaw. 1989. Les argonautes du Pacifique occidental. Paris : Gallimard.
  • Martiniello, Marco, Mazzocchetti Jacinthe et Rea Andrea (eds.). 2013. Les nouveaux enjeux migratoires en Belgique, REMI, Revue Européenne des Migrations Internationales, vol. 29 (2).
  • Maurer, Bill. 2012. « Payment: Forms and Functions of Value Transfer in Contemporary Society». Cambridge Anthropology, n°30, vol.2, pp. 15-35.
  • Mauss, Marcel. 2012 Essai sur le don. Forme et raison de l’échange dans les sociétés archaïques. Paris : Presses Universitaires de France.
  • Mazzocchetti, Jacinthe (eds.). 2014. Migrations subsahariennes et condition noire en Belgique. A la croisée des regards, Louvain-la-Neuve, Academia, coll. « Investigations d’Anthropologie Prospective », n°8.
  • Mazzocchetti, Jacinthe, Nyatanyi Biyiha, Marie-Pierre (eds.).2016. Plurielles. Femmes de la diaspora africaine, Paris, Karthala (Photographies de Véronique Vercheval)
  • N. Chen, Nancy. 2014. BioInsecurity and Vulnerability, SAR Press, Santa Fe.
  • Ndjio, Basile. 2012. Magie et enrichissement illicite : Feymania au Cameroun (Magic and illicit enrichment), Paris : Karthala/SEPHIS.
  • Ndjio, Basile.2013. “Sexualities and nationalist ideologies in postcolonial Africa” in Saskia Wieringa and Horacio, F. Sivori, eds. Sexualities and modernity in the global South. Zed books.
  • Nouss, Alexis. 2015. La condition de l'exilé : Penser les migrations contemporaines, Paris, Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, Coll. Interventions
  • Ostrower, Francie. 1997. Why the wealthy give: the culture of elite philanthropy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Polanyi, Karl. 1957. The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of our Times. Boston: Beacon Press.
  • Rainhorn, Jean-Daniel. 2015. "New cannibal markets" avec S. El Boudamoussi.
  • Rodier, Claire et Portevin Catherine. 2016. Migrants et réfugiés, Paris, La découverte.
  • Sahlins, Marshall. 1976. Âge de pierre, âge d’abondance : l’économie des sociétés primitives. Paris : Gallimard.
  • Schoff, Leonard Hastings. 2007. Bodies, Commodities, and Biotechnologies: Death, Mourning, and Scientific Desire in the Real of Human Organ Transfer, Columbia University Press (2007)
  • Strathern, Marilyn. 1988. The Gender of the Gift: Problems with Women and Problems with Society in Melanesia. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Tabet, Paola. 2004. La grande arnaque. Sexualité des femmes et échange économico-sexuel, Paris, L’Harmattan.
  • Testart, Alain. 2006. Critique du don : Etudes sur la circulation non marchande. Paris : Editions Syllepse.
  • Veyne, Paul. 1976. Le Pain et le Cirque : Sociologie historique d’un pluralisme politique. Paris : Seuil.
  • Vidal, Denis. 2014. « The three Graces, or the allegory of the gift. A contribution to the history of an idea in anthropology ».  Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 4 (2), pp. 339-368.
  • Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo. 2004. « Le don et le donné : trois nano-essais sur la parenté et la magie ». Ethnographiques.org, n°6.
  • Weiner, Annette. 1992. Inalienable possessions: the paradox of keeping-while-giving. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Wihtol de Wenden, Catherine. 2013. La question migratoire au 21e siècle, Paris, Presse de sciences po.


  • Salle Lecl93 - Collège Jacques Leclecq, Place Montesquieu 1
    Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium (1348)


  • Sunday, January 15, 2017


  • don, circulation des biens, lien social, capitaux


  • Singleton Chaire
    courriel : chairesingleton2017 [at] gmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Caroline Sappia
    courriel : chairesingleton2017 [at] gmail [dot] com

To cite this announcement

« The social link in view of the circulation of Goods, People and Capital », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, November 28, 2016, https://calenda.org/385934

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