Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Making and Unmaking of the Haya Lived World: Consumption, Commoditization, and Everyday Practice. :: Haya Humanity Essays

The Making and Unmaking of the Haya Lived World: Consumption, Commoditization, and Everyday Practice In relation to the Haya of Northwest Tanzania, Brad Weiss constructs a model of coeval symmetry in which people engage in making the world around them but also engage in making themselves (4). His ethnographic analysis illustrates how relationships with commodities contribute to the constitution and reconfiguration of the Haya sociocultural world. Drawing from the phenomenological work of Merleau-Ponty, Weiss constructs the Haya lived world in terms of inhabiting both social space and time in an effort to show the relevance of this conception of the world to both the anthropology of the body and understanding sociocultural practice in general (5-6). Weiss not only argues that commodities like food or land have social value but that they "can be understood as personifications (e.g. as extensions or embodiments) of those who give and receive them" (13). Part 1 focuses on the household production, provision, and consumption of food, which Weiss states is essential to making the lived world of the Haya. The cultural values regarding interiority, exteriority, heat, and speed are discussed as modes by which the Haya mediate with the processes of consumption. Architectural descriptions of different Haya homes are oriented to the ways in which division, enclosure, and exclusion shape the Haya habitus. Spatial configurations of social relations become embedded in Haya house opening rites, which serve to protect the house against potential conflict with guests (38). The hearth is central to the household, both literally (spatially) and metaphorically, in terms of the social relations which rest on it. Weiss relates the consumption of different kinds of banana beer and banana gin to both the temporal nature of banana cultivation and of beverage production and consumption. Hearth-ripened bananas involve a slower process but the resulting beer (olibisi) is considered superior (taste, ascetics) to that beer produced from the pit (olutala)-ripened method, a faster and more lucrative process. Banana gin (enkonyagi), having a much higher alcohol content, commands a higher market price but is associated with "the desire for money and its deleterious consequences" (61). Not only is the banana-ripening process faster for the gin, but also patrons get drunk more quickly while rapidly losing their pocket money. Weiss suggests that the Haya associate the rapid speed of such product turnover with animosity and illness, while the hearth is more revered for both its placement in the home and its more withdrawn stance from the world of quick monetized exchange.

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