Potlach Papers by Christopher Bracken
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Potlach Papers
By Christopher Bracken

Potlach Papers

A Colonial Case History New edition

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Format: Paperback

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Potlach Papers by Christopher Bracken

Book Description

Variously described as an exchange of gifts, a destruction of property, a system of banking, and a struggle for prestige, the potlatch is one of the founding concepts of anthropology. Some researchers even claim to have discovered traces of the potlatch in all the economies of the world. However, as the author of this text shows in this closely-argued work, the potlatch was in fact invented by the 19th-century Canadian law that sought to destroy it. In addition to giving the world its own potlatch, the law also generated a random collection of "potlatch papers" dating from the 1860s to the 1930s. Bracken analyzes these documents - some canonical, like Franz Boas's ethnographies, others unpublished and little known - to catch a colonialist discourse in the act of constructing fictions about certain "first nations" and then deploying those fictions against them. Rather than referring to objects that already exist, the "potlatch papers" instead gave themselves something to refer to: a mirror in which to observe not "the Indian," but "the European."

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780226069876
ISBN-10: 0226069877
Format: Paperback
(216mm x 140mm x 19mm)
Pages: 224
Imprint: University of Chicago Press
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Publish Date: 4-Dec-1997
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions...

Books By Author Christopher Bracken

Magical Criticism by Christopher Bracken Magical Criticism, Paperback (September 2007)

Western scholars racialized ideas, deeming knowledge based on reality superior to that based on ideality. This book brings the unacknowledged history of this racialization to light and shows how, even as we have rejected ethnocentric notions of "the savage," they remain active.

» View all books by Christopher Bracken


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