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Marcel Mauss: In Pursuit of the Whole. A Review Essay

  • Keith Hart (a1)
Abstract

Emile Durkheim assembled a team to promote his vision for sociology, but he and Mauss were in many ways a double act, like Marx and Engels. There was room for only one leader of the movement, so we speak of the Durkheimians and the Marxists. Mauss and Engels each assumed leadership of the movement they jointly founded after their partner's death, but the intrinsic inequality of the partnership was made worse in Mauss' case by age difference, kinship seniority, and his inability to write books of his own. The publication of an abridged English translation of Marcel Fournier's Marcel Mauss: A Biography (2006 [1994]) allows us to reconsider his historical relationship with Durkheim, as well as his legacy for anthropology, history, and the social sciences today. French scholarship on Mauss is, of course, much more advanced than its Anglophone counterpart and it is less confined to academic anthropology. Fournier's 800-page collection of Mauss' Écrits politiques (1997) remains virtually unknown to English-speakers and the collective organized in his name, the Mouvement Anti-Utilitariste dans les Sciences Sociales (with its journal, revue du MAUSS), continues the eponymous founder's commitment to integrating progressive politics and intellectual work over a wide range of issues. In both cases, The Gift (1990 [1925]) has iconic significance as Mauss' most discussed work; but, as Sigaud (2002) has already pointed out, the Anglophone academy, with assistance from one or two leading French anthropologists, has taken up its message in ways that depart seriously from the author's original intentions.

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
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