Days [ ) The refusal | David Graeber, 2011

Peter Freuchen and his wife Navarana in Thule 1916 17

Peter Freuchen and his wife, Navarana, in Thule,1916-17

Peter Freuchen tells how one day, after coming home hungry from an unsuccessful walrus-hunting expedition, he found one of the successful hunters dropping off several hundred pounds of meat. He thanked him profusely. The man objected indignantly:

“Up in our country we are human!” said the hunter. “And since we are human we help each other. We don’t like to hear anybody say thanks for that. What I get today you may get tomorrow. Up here we say that by gifts one makes slaves and by whips one makes dogs.”

The refusal to calculate credits and debits can be found throughout the anthropological literature on egalitarian hunting societies. Rather than seeing himself as human because he could make economic calculations, the hunter insisted that being truly human meant refusing to make such calculations, refusing to measure or remember who had given what to whom.”

David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years, 2011

* Peter Freuchen (1886-1957) Danish explorer, author and anthropologist.

Alphabetarion # | Measure | David Graeber, 2018

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