Publié le 26 mars 2024 Mis à jour le 26 mars 2024

Ce séminaire est organisé par le Centre d'études sud-asiatiques et himalayennes (CESAH, CNRS-EHESS)


le 5 avril 2024

de 10h30 à 12h30
Type(s) d'évènements

Foundations and endowments institutionalize gift giving in a permanent and asymmetric flow. They are made to last and to provide benefits for recipients for an indefinite time. This emphasizes an aspect of gifting that, in anthropological theory, has been obscured by Mauss’ notion of obligation: Each gift implies a range of expectations of future events. These expectations may be stronger (that is, limited in their possibilities) or weaker (allowing for a broader range of future outcomes). Gifts thus project various kinds of future. At the same time, they reference a social or cosmic totality that makes these outcomes possible in the first place. This becomes particularly explicit in foundations. They often imply the ongoing existence of certain legal frameworks, such as property rights, the durability of the cosmological assumptions – such as benevolent gods – or social structures – such as lords and servants – they are based on. They thus evoke a moral horizon of the value system in operation, especially in respect to the relation between givers and receivers of benefits. Society thus appears as a shared project of expecting the future. This theoretical model is applied to Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia as well as other forms of foundations in history and the present. The aim is to explore the options for comparing foundations across societies and history.