Fame, Fate-Fortune and Tokens of Value among the Nuosu of Southwest China

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15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Landmark anthropological works on fame have shown that gift-giving is often the vehicle for producing relations of 'positive value' and recognition. When viewing fame against the related notion of fortune, however, the focal point of study shifts to how people produce reputations that are 'beyond value' or 'priceless'. This article proposes that the Nuosu of Southwest China enter into an ongoing 'economy of ordeals' in order to accumulate priceless 'tokens of value' that increase their 'fate-fortune' and fame. It shows that ambitious Nuosu accept new ordeals to achieve fame, while comfortably viewing their accomplishments as akin to those of a predatory spider. Tellingly, though, these efforts are vulnerable to the counter-extractive maneuvers of other people and ghosts, which present the Nuosu with new ordeals that could deplete their resources.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberN/A
Pages (from-to)56-72
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Analysis
Volume56
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012

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