By Stephen Gudeman
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Org/core/terms. 002 The Strength of the House house model, however, provides a limpid example of the way a house economy depends on the material world through rent taking, whether this rent is conceived as a gift from the divinity, the product of ancestors, or the work of the spirits. The people themselves do not use the word, rent, but speak about giving and taking with the earth as in a social relationship. A standard economist would break apart this image of reciprocity to say that land and labor are separate factors of production and each should be used to the point where its marginal increment no longer yields an enlarged return.
Org/core/terms. 002 The Strength of the House Humans consume the strength that has been gathered in one year’s agricultural cycle to return to farming in the next where they expend it in work that assists the land to provide more. By eating from the earth, animals live by strength as well. Work done, whether in the ﬁelds, at the house, or elsewhere, represents the use of strength; and things made, whether tools, furniture, clothing, or houses emerge only through the use of strength, whose expenditure they embody.
The area was poor in resources and distant from accessible markets. Few of the native inhabitants could be found, even in the most inaccessible areas, for their numbers had long since dwindled. Those who remained spoke Spanish and lived much like the rural people I studied. So secluded had the rural folk been over the past centuries that they still used some sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish phrases that were not heard elsewhere. org/core. org/core/terms. 002 The Strength of the House to me that they were inheritors of Spanish traditions that characterized other parts of Central and South America.
Anthropology and Economy by Stephen Gudeman
Categories: Economic History