Introduction to an anthropology of wealth
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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In this introduction, we aim to demystify the concept of wealth, too entangled in financial discourses, which have generally reduced it to ‘accumulated assets’. This is at odds with the intricate cultural history of wealth as a concept, as well as with abundant anthropological accounts, instead defining wealth as a question of reproduction, relational flows and life vitality. When we view wealth as firstly a product of relational capacities, we begin to understand the processes wherein it is constantly being pulled at from forces that demand appropriation, be that finance, community or state. We therefore outline wealth as a triangular phenomenon between capital, the commons, and power. Careful at the dynamics between such forces, we structure our analysis around the paradoxical social processes where wealth, originating in every day relationships and human reproduction, is continually exposed to claims – such as market alienation, but also ‘commoning’, or governmental state control.