The Elders' Measures: Barter, Value and Kinship in the Argentinean Andes

Olivia Angé*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Drawing on ethnographic data from north Argentina, this text examines an Andean figure of barter called cambio. In contrast with other kinds of direct exchanges, cambio alludes to an archetypal transaction of agricultural products, framed by normative prescriptions that are said to be inherited from the ancestors. The examination of cambio shows that the theory of value posited by its partakers constitutes a fundamental feature for understanding barter peculiarities, and in particular, its social performativity. The article argues that barter is not simply embedded within previous social networks. It further participates in the constitution of new kinds of relationships. In cambio, these ties are conceived in the idiom of kinship, which fixes identities in a dynamic ethnic configuration. In its all, this work enlightens how groups create themselves through economic exchanges and the importance of barter in this process; an aspect that has been underestimated in the literature, where such social operation remains chiefly attributed to gift-giving.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-378
JournalJournal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Andes
  • Barter
  • Ethnicity
  • Identity
  • Value

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