Call edition 2012

A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.

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Anthropological approach to urban bartering in Buenos Aires/the case of ‘Red Global de Trueque’

Olivia ANGÉ student laureate

°1981 Belgium
Degree in Sociology and Anthropology, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, 2003

Approche anthropologique du troc urbain à Buenos Aires/Cas de La Red Global de Trueque

According to Ricœur true symbols, despite being engaging, ‘give food for thought’. Likewise, an excellent field study, despite its irrepressible singularity, could, or even should, incite to action. Similarly, Olivia Angé’s remarkable monograph on the network of urban bartering in Buenos Aires not only gives food for thought but could, or even should, spur to action. The implosion of the State as the providential provider of all kinds of services under the impact of globalization (and its dreadful consequences), has meant that at first those left by the wayside have had to manage on their own, on the margins of society. Ultimately however, this informal ‘having to manage and managing’ becomes formalized, both quantitatively and qualitatively, to the point where it comes to represent a state (or rather states since the phenomenon shows itself to be complex and contradictory) in what is left of the State. There are theoretical and practical lessons to be drawn here for anyone concerned with Development and particularly involved in ensuring that the social changes that will one day have to replace the State are best brought about. Indeed seen from close-up, as Olivia Angé does, Development, Progress and Modernity as they are understood today have been synonymous with the westernization of the world, i.e. the submission of the entire world to the Invisible Hand of a Global Market. Even if they are not fully aware of it, the people involved in the projects detailed by the author appear not only to be exploring but also to be promoting a new Community Project that is closer to Porto Alegre than to Davos, a Project of simplicity and sobriety, of solidarity and sincerity. If, therefore, the network of exchange described in this dissertation spurs to action as well as giving food for thought ‘as regards development’, it is not because such an initiative, which is only truly meaningful and successful locally, could be reproduced elsewhere, but because first and foremost it makes us address the ambiguity of Development and because at the same time it inspires us with strategies that can lead us all towards a less ambiguous future. Thank you therefore to Olivia Angé, who, through her anthropological approach to a network of urban bartering, does not give us a practical panacea but leads us on an exploration of the best of what human logic could reveal.

Report written by Prof. Dr M. Singleton, emeritus professor of Anthropology, Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium