American Ethnological Society
Oral Presentation Session
By exploring the nature of hoarding, this paper seeks to investigate its relationship to visions and plans for the future. Surveying such seemingly diverse phenomena as central bank reserves and granaries, the paper then explores the ways in which attempts to "stabilize" the incessant flow of wealth seems to be an exceedingly common form of human behavior, just as Weiner insisted. I push this notion further, asking why it is that hoards often manage to transform from piles of unused—and unusable— specific items, into mounds of "sacred excess."
The second half of the paper will focus on a more specific example of this broader phenomenon, by investigating the burgeoning international movement in microfinance. By placing it within this larger "history of hoarding," the paper will rely on recent contributions in this field in order to illuminate the concrete ways in which microfinance expands into new communities by reorienting local hoarding practices. In so doing, I seek to contextualize microfinance as one of a long series of iterative efforts to control, regulate, and harmonize hoarding practices over a spatial and temporal field. As this process unfolds, we can track the ways in which hoarding relates to both hierarchy and efforts to build particular visions of the future.