Wed March 25: Thomas Kemple, “Mauss’s Roundtable: Continuity and Change in the Economy of the Eco-gift,” Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College, UBC

Please join us for the fourth talk of the semester in the Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College, at UBC:

Dr. Thomas Kemple 
(Department of Sociology, University of British Columbia)
“Mauss’s Roundtable: Continuity and Change in the Economy of the Eco-gift”
5-6:30pm, Wed March 25, Coach House, Green College, UBC

 This talk considers the arguments of some classical sociologists from the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth century concerning the relationship between subsistence economies of reproduction and sacrificial economies of symbolic exchange. Marcel Mauss’s celebrated figure of “the roundtable of gift-exchange” presents us with a model of reciprocity and rivalry, solidarity and strife that can be framed by Georg Simmel’s general reflections on the self-preservation of social groups and Thorstein Veblen’s famous thesis concerning the conspicuous consumption of the leisure classes. With reference to a few ordinary and imaginary examples, such as the family meal and the festive sacrifice, I consider how these early accounts of the extra-or non-economic foundations of social life anticipate and even exceed recent cultural theories of what I am calling the “eco-gift”: the paradox of “a given space to inhabit” or of “a given thing to have” that connects by separating, binds while freeing, and takes in receiving. By recovering this classic theme from the history of the science of social economics, I argue for a kind of “object-oriented sociology” that considers how bonds of association are materialized and describes how non-human things establish and make visible relations between people.

All those attending talks in this series are invited to stay for dinner at Green College with the speaker. Those interested in attending dinner are asked to make a reservation at least by noon the business day before. Contact 604-822-8660 or visit the Green College website for details.

“Oecologies: Histories of Sustainability” is a Speaker Series sponsored by Green College that gathers scholars from the humanities living and working along the North American Pacific coast to investigate the idea of “oecology,” an older spelling of the modern concept “ecology.” For event details, abstracts, and speaker information, please visit or view the event poster. Also follow us on Twitter (@Oecologies) and “Like” us on Facebook (! If you have other questions about Oecologies, please do not hesitate to contact me ( or our assistant, Sarah Crover (


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