Sunday, March 15, 6pm
What is wealth? Can there be a definition that moves beyond the superficiality of cash accumulation? Who is embracing a new definition? Using data collected form ethnographic work conducted in Maya villages in the lowland rainforests of Belize, social anthropologist Kristina Baines presents thoughts on the movement between a traditional reciprocal labor system to a cash economy, and back again. Outlining the details of the Maya reciprocal labor system, which uses a day’s work as currency to trade for a day’s work of another community member, Kristina discusses what it means in terms of health, heritage and future to use a cash-less system. As part of Proteus’ ongoing exploration of COMMERCE, Kristina questions our understandings of poverty and wealth, the linear perception of “development” and how we put alternatives to capital into “communal” or “fringe” boxes. What lessons can these traditional systems teach us about commerce in our communities when we recast ideas about heritage in the present?
Kristina Baines is a social anthropologist on a mission to uncover ecological connections to health and happiness. She works with Maya communities in the Toledo District, Belize and in the US, and has collaboratively developed environmental and cultural heritage educational materials based on local research (www.teacha.com). She hopes, through the use of technology, to promote the wide dissemination of anthropological ideas and their applications (www.coolanthropology.com). She is currently an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Faculty for Academic Technology with the City University of New York at Guttman Community College in New York City.