Underlying Transfers

Anthony Pickles

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This entry considers a conceptual manoeuvre, that of viewing transactions from the standpoint of the transmissions within them, that is their underlying transfers. Living involves a continual conveyance, creating a web of transfers that are parcelled into transactions. Anthropologists normally begin with the systems of transaction that everyone is born into; they compare ideal transactions to each other, to apparently non-economic activity and to practical experience. Anthropologists have long used the term “transfers” to cover a range of one-way transactions like theft. A related but not explicitly connected literature has since emerged on the policy phenomenon of cash transfer programmes and how they reconfigure relationships between obligation and wealth. This new literature helps show the alternative potential of the term transfers for highlighting and working with the lack of clarity that exists around many transactions in the real world, especially at times of innovation or between parties without aligned interests.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Economic Anthropology
EditorsJames G. Carrier
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages10
EditionThird Edition
ISBN (Print)978 1 83910 891 4
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • cash transfers
  • economic theory
  • exchange
  • transactions
  • transfer policy
  • one-way transfers

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