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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Impact of Commoditisation on the Mbuti of Eastern Zaire
Author:Ichikwaw, Mitsuo
Periodical:Senri Ethnological Studies
Geographic term:Congo (Democratic Republic of)
dual economy
economic anthropology
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:The Mbuti hunter-gatherers in the Teturi region of Eastern Zaire have experienced considerable economic and social change since the recent introduction of meat trading and wage labour. While contact with the market economy is not a recent event, in the past it was made indirectly by way of their neighbours (Bantu and Sudanic cultivators). Today, however, the Mbuti are directly involved in commodity exchange. This paper analyses the consequences of their direct involvement in commodity exchange for their economic and social life. The most important commodity exchange for the Mbuti is meat trading. Although a cash economy is spreading rapidly into the Ituri Forest, where the Mbuti live, the Mbuti still depend on a barter style of transaction, obtaining commodities through the direct exchange of one commodity for another. There are two reasons why the barter economy continues: first, the Mbuti do not need much cash at present - it is the use value and not the profit itself that the Mbuti want to acquire from the exchange of their products. Second, barter ensures stable exchanges in an unstable national economy characterized by inflation. Under the influence of the commoditization of meat, fundamental changes are taking place in Mbuti society, including the intensification of hunting, the strengthening of the owner's right over the meat, a reduction in sharing practices, and changes in hunting group composition. Despite the changes, however, meat trading still remains socially embedded. Bibliogr., notes.