[Report]4th Academic Frontier Lecture Series 2023

On Friday, April 28, 2023, the third lecture of the Academic Frontier Series “Towards the World in 30 Years” was held, titled “Giving Time: The Gift Theory of Small-Scale Traders in Tanzania.” The speaker, Sayaka Ogawa, a professor at Ritsumeikan University, shared an impressive phrase used by small-scale traders in Tanzania: “My money is not in the bank, it’s in my friends.” This phrase highlights the survival strategy of accumulating social capital over economic capital due to the unstable business environment and the lack of a social security system. According to Ogawa, individuals “save” in the form of owing a debt to other individuals, and then they withdraw necessary funds, goods, information, or skills from those individuals who owe them a debt. Marcel Mauss, who Ogawa mentioned in her lecture, used “spirit” to describe a similar mechanism in his book The Gift. In other words, individuals give a part of their spirit to others through gifts, and that spirit returns something in some form. Although small-scale traders in Tanzania assume that reciprocity in gift-giving is not guaranteed, it is not clear whether they envision reciprocity extending to “heaven,” the “afterlife,” or multispecies. If given the opportunity, it would be interesting to ask Professor Ogawa about this topic.

Report by CHIN Chunwah (EAA Research Assistant)