The gift in the heart of language. The maternal source of meaning
Genevieve Vaughan offers a paradigm-shifting view of the structure of material and verbal communication, based on mother- child experience and confirmed by recent research in infant psychology. This view justifies a relational epistemology that informs the material gift economy as well as the structure of language itself. Provisioning economies give value to the receivers, and the circulation of gifts consolidates community. Understanding language as verbal gifting unites other orientation with reason to liberate us from biopathic patriarchal conceptions of humanity. Sketched against this background Vaughan introduces a conception of monetized exchange as a giftdenying and expropriating psychological mechanism, which is an unintended collective by product of verbal communication. This view stands as a warning against visions of the future in which the institutions of money and the market can be “fixed”to be more caring, and sanitized business as usual can halt the destruction of Mother Earth. Rather a gift economy, which takes as its model the mother-child interaction, the gifting in language and the gifting in mother-centered societies provides hope for a positive future.
Genevieve Vaughan (1939) is an independent researcher who has been working on the gift hypothesis for almost half a century. She created the all-woman activist Foundation for a Compassionate Society (1987-2005) and the network: International Feminists for a Gift Economy (2001 – ongoing). Her books are For-Giving, a Feminist Criticism of Exchange (1997) and Homo Donans (2006). She has edited two anthologies. She is the mother of three daughters. See www.gift-economy.com.