Accepted Paper:

Hoarding and Hierarchy: From Granaries to Microfinance  


Gustav Peebles (The New School)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I rely on insights from Weiner's benchmark text, Inalienable Possessions, in order to highlight some aspects of hoarding that have been mostly ignored by anthropology, perhaps because of the denigration that hoarding has suffered under many centuries.

Paper long abstract:

My paper begins by exploring the nature of hoarding and its relationship to visions and plans for the future. Surveying such seemingly diverse phenomena as central bank reserves and granaries, the paper commences by exploring the ways in which attempts to "stabilize" the incessant flow of wealth seems to be an exceedingly common form of human behavior, just as Weiner insisted. I push this notion further, asking why it is that hoards often manage to transform from piles of unused—and unusable— specific items, into mounds of "sacred excess."

The second half of the paper will focus on a more specific example of this broader phenomenon, by investigating the burgeoning international movement in microfinance. By placing it within this larger "history of hoarding," the paper will rely on recent contributions in this field in order to illuminate the concrete ways in which microfinance expands into new communities by reorienting local hoarding practices. In so doing, I seek to contextualize microfinance as one of a long series of iterative efforts to control, regulate, and harmonize hoarding practices over a spatial and temporal field. As this process unfolds, we can track its impact on local hierarchies, as well as on its potential role in such seemingly unrelated events as Modi's recent demonetization effort in India. Taken together, I will hope to show the ways in which hoarding relates to both hierarchy and efforts to build particular visions of the future.

Panel P109
Hoarding, temporality, and value: regimes of accumulation and dispersal