Ryan Schram Yawahigu ana amwahao Ol rot bilong laip bilong mi (or, Curriculum vitae)

Finding Money: Business and Charity in Auhelawa, Papua New Guinea

There is a growing consensus that money and the market principle have not led to a great transformation into modernity. Rather, market exchange is everywhere socially embedded. But what does this embedding consist of, structural limits, tactics of resistance, or moral boundaries? Auhelawa (Normanby Island, Papua New Guinea) have incorporated money into their local economy in a variety of ways which keep the logic of the market in check. The comparison between two modes of accumulation – business and charity – sheds light on the precise nature of embeddedness. Local entrepreneurs describe themselves as navigating dilemmas which arise from contradictions between accumulation and reciprocity. Church congregations, however, appear to have transcended this conflict by representing their charitable contributions of money as love-gifts which are not subject to reciprocity. While charity, like business, is an embedded form of accumulation, I argue that it creates links to an alternative hierarchy of values, and thus contains the potential to create a great transformation of its own.