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ILCAA Joint Research Project

Comparative Ethnographical Study on the Dynamism of Debt (2): Plurality, Conflict and Creativity around Human Economics (jrp000278)



  • debt
  • cultural anthropology
  • human economy
  • gift
  • money
  • hierarchy
  • communism


  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • South Asia
  • Southeast Asia
  • East Asia
  • Oceania Pacific
  • South America


About the Project

Project term: April, 2022–March, 2025

What does debt mean to human beings? This study seeks to answer this question by examining ethnographic cases from world over. During the second period, the concept of “human economies” —emerged. According to David Graeber, these are economies that are “to create, maintain, or sever relations between people rather than to purchase things.” This study explores what pluralistic debt should be to avoid violent quantification and abstraction of the value of human beings and things. It also discusses the conflict between this kind of debt and commercial economic debt to further shade light on the concept of “being indebted to others” in today’s world.

Yutaka SAKUMA, Project Coordinator



  • Yutaka SAKUMA (Meiji University)


  • Yukako YOSHIDA

Joint Researchers

  • Juntaro FUKADA
  • Manami HAYASHI
  • Miki IKOMA
  • Masaharu KAWANO
  • Shuhei KIMURA
  • Junko MARUYAMA
  • Keiichiro MATSUMURA
  • Arihiro MINOO
  • Osamu NAKAGAWA
  • Chikako NAKAYAMA
  • Eri KODA
  • Sayaka OGAWA
  • Aoi OTAKE
  • Toru SAGAWA
  • Takashi SAKAI
  • Ayako SEKINO
  • Yuki SUZUKI
  • Daisuke TERAUCHI
  • Miki YAMADA
  • Matori YAMAMOTO



The 7th meeting

  • Date/Time: Sat 6 Jul 2024 10:00–17:15
  • Venue: 306
  • Language: Japanese
  • 1. Chairparson
    “Opening greet”
    2. Miki NAMBA (Kagoshima University)
    “Irredeemable or Dischargeable Debts? Thinking through Development Aid by Japan”
    3. Matori YAMAMOTO (Hosei University)
    “Hierarchy and Redistribution”
    4. Yohei KAKINUMA (Waseda University)
    “Origin of Money in China?”14:25–15:25 Yutaka 5. SAKUMA (ILCAA Joint Researcher/ Meiji University) “The Human Economy in the Post-Human Era: Concepts and Prospects”
    6. All members

The 6th meeting Report (Japanese)

  • Date/Time: Tue 27 Feb 2024 10:00–17:15
  • Venue: 304, Online meeting
  • Language: Japanese
  • 10:00–10:05 Chairparson
    “Opening greet”
    10:05–11:35 Satsuki TAKAHASHI (Hosei University)
    “Storage and Discharge: Circulating Debts and Credits with Fukushima's Wastewater”
    12:35–14:05 Manami HAYASHI (ILCAA Joint Researcher / JSPS)
    “Marriage and Bridewealth in 'Modernized' Maasai Society in Kenya.”
    14:05–15:35 Miki YAMADA (ILCAA Joint Researcher / Kyoto University)
    “The Charismatic Monk and the Ghost's Spirit of the Gift in Northern Thailand: It's Not Our Temple”
    15:45–17:15 All members

The 5th meeting/Toward Post-Greaber's Man and Economy A Joint Review of Debt, Credit, and Human Economies Report (Japanese)

  • Date/Time: Sat 4 Nov 2023 15:00–17:30
  • Venue: Room 9, 2nd floor, Meiji University Surugadai Campus, Online meeting
  • Language: Japanese
  • 15:00–15:05 Moderator Arihiro MINOO (ILCAA Joint Researcher/ Waseda University)
    Opening Speech
    15:05–15:20 Yutaka SAKUMA (ILCAA Joint Researcher/Meiji University)
    15:20–15:40 Ichiro MAJIMA (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)
    Comment 1
    15:40–16:00 Sonoe OMODA (Meiji University)
    Comment 2
    16:15–16:45 Yutaka SAKUMA, Arihiro MINOO, Sayaka OGAWA (ILCAA Joint Researcher/ Ritsumeikan University), Tooru SAGAWA (ILCAA Joint Researcher/ Keio University), Keiichiro MATSUMURA (ILCAA Joint Researcher/ Okayama University), Takashi SAKAI (ILCAA Joint Researcher/ Osaka Metropolitan University), Yoko TAGUCHI (Eikei University), Manami HAYASHI (ILCAA Joint Researcher/ JSPS)
    Reply from Authers

The 4th meeting Report (Japanese)

  • Date/Time: Sun 9 Jul 2023 10:00–17:40
  • Venue: 304, Online meeting
  • Language: Japanese
  • 10:00–10:30 All members
    Reports and Discussion
    10:30–12:00 Keiichiro SAKO (ILCAA Joint Researcher / Ritsumeikan University)
    “Living as Slaves, Watching as Aristocrats: A Case Study of Social Stratification in East Sumba, with Field Reports”
    13:00–14:30 Juntaro FUKADA (ILCAA Joint Researcher / Mie University)
    “Is “Dead Stock” of Shell Money “Tax Collection” without Sovereignty?”
    14:30–16:00 Yutaka SAKUMA (ILCAA Joint Researcher / Meiji University)
    “What is the Human Economy?: Gifts, Debt, and Morality”
    16:10–17:40 All members
    Chair: Yutaka SAKUMA

The 3rd meeting Report (Japanese)

  • Date/Time: Wed 22 Mar 2023 9:00–17:40
  • Venue: 303, Online meeting
  • Language: Japanese
  • 10:00-10:30
    10:30-12:00 Masaharu KAWANO (ILCAA Joint Researcher, Ritsumeikan University)
    “The Multiple Concepts of ”Indebtedness” and their Extensibility in Pohnpei, Micronesia: Recontextualizing Debt in Ethnographic Descriptions of Human Economies”
    13:00-14:30 Chikako NAKAYAMA (ILCAA Joint Researcher, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)
    The 'State theory of Money' in the context of globalized world: From Knapp to MMT
    14:30-16:00 Manami HAYASHI (ILCAA Joint Researcher, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science/ Osaka Metropolitan University)
    The Influence of David Graver's idea toward French Academy and Society: The Political Anthropology and the Social Movement of 'Gilets Jaunes'
    16:10-17:40 All members
    Chair: Yutaka SAKUMA (ILCAA Joint Researcher, Meiji University)

The 2nd meeting Report (Japanese)

  • Date/Time: Sat 24 Sep 2022 13:00–18:30
  • Venue: Online meeting
  • Language: Japanese
  • 13:00–14:30 Yuki FURUKAWA (University of Niigata Prefecture)
    “Consideration and Debt――the Case of Cheese Producers in the village of Northern Andes”
    14:30–16:00 Eri KODA (ILCAA Joint Researcher, Ritsumeikan Univeresity)
    “Transactional sex and Sugar Dating: Case of Young people's Relationships in urban Ghana”
    16:10–17:40 Daisuke TERAUCHI (ILCAA Joint Researcher, University of Tsukuba)
    “Entanglements between conventional exchange modes and market exchange in a swidden society (tentative) ”
    17:40–18:30 All members
    Chair: Yutaka SAKUMA (ILCAA Joint Researcher, Meiji University)

The 1st meeting Report (Japanese)

  • Date/Time: Sat 10 jul 2022 10:00–17:00
  • Venue: 304, Online meeting
  • Language: Japanese
  • 10:00–12:00 Yutaka SAKUMA (ILCAA Joint Researcher, Meiji University)
    13:00–15:00 All Participants
    15:00–17:00 All Participants

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