The Return of the Gift: European History of a Global Idea

The Return of the Gift: European History of a Global Idea

By: Harry Liebersohn (author)Hardback

4 - 6 days availability

£58.28 RRP £62.00  You save £3.72 (6%) With FREE Saver Delivery


This book is a history of European interpretations of the gift from the mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth century. Reciprocal gift exchange, pervasive in traditional European society, disappeared from the discourse of nineteenth-century social theory only to return as a major theme in twentieth-century anthropology, sociology, history, philosophy and literary studies. Modern anthropologists encountered gift exchange in Oceania and the Pacific Northwest and returned the idea to European social thought; Marcel Mauss synthesized their insights with his own readings from remote times and places in his famous 1925 essay on the gift, the starting-point for subsequent discussion. The Return of the Gift demonstrates how European intellectual history can gain fresh significance from global contexts.

Create a review

About Author

Harry Liebersohn is a Professor of History in the Department of History, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of several books, including Fate and Utopia in German Sociology, 1871-1923 (1988), Aristocratic Encounters: European Travelers and North American Indians (Cambridge University Press, 1998) and The Travelers' World, Europe to the Pacific (2006). His article 'Discovering Indigenous Nobility: Tocqueville, Chamisso, and Romantic Travel Writing', which appeared in the American Historical Review, was awarded the 1995 William Koren, Jr Prize of the Society for French Historical Studies. Professor Liebersohn was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1996-1997 and a fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin) in 2006-2007.


Introduction; 1. The crisis of the gift: Warren Hastings and his critics; 2. Liberalism, self-interest, and the gift; 3. The selfless 'savage': theories of primitive communism; 4. Anthropologists and the power of the gift: Boas, Thurnwald, Malinowski; 5. Marcel Mauss and the globalized gift; Conclusion.

Product Details

  • publication date: 06/12/2010
  • ISBN13: 9781107002180
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 224
  • ID: 9781107002180
  • weight: 500
  • ISBN10: 1107002184

Delivery Information

  • Saver Delivery: Yes
  • 1st Class Delivery: Yes
  • Courier Delivery: Yes
  • Store Delivery: Yes

Prices are for internet purchases only. Prices and availability in WHSmith Stores may vary significantly