Collecting Relationships: the Phenomenon of Ooshies

Anthropologists have long acknowledged that ownership is a far more complex phenomenon than it seems at first. What on the surface appears to be a relationship between you and an object is actually a relationship between you, the object and everyone else. To borrow David Graeber’s example: “when one buys a car one is not really purchasing the right to use it so much as the right to prevent others from using it”.

“It’s a lot of sand”: An anthropological take on Trump’s Syrian withdrawal

That Syria has “a lot of sand” is meant to stand in for its lack of value. As a place that is sandy, it is not worth US lives; good enough for less valued Syrians and Russians but not good enough for Americans ... But it also got me thinking about a more fundamental question. Why is it that we, in the Anglo-American world, devalue ‘sand’?