Mali’s Gift Economy

In the red-dust town of Kati, Mali, a meeting is underway between the leaders of the local Institute for Popular Education, who have just called out the chant, and a group of Western visitors who came to the West African nation for the 2007 World Social Forum.

In the red-dust town of Kati, Mali, a meeting is underway between the leaders of the local Institute for Popular Education, who have just called out the chant, and a group of Western visitors who came to the West African nation for the 2007 World Social Forum.

At the Forum, 30,000 people came together in hot pursuit of alternatives to the reigning winner-take-all-and-screw-the-rest economic model. The case of West Africa is unusual. Here an alternative already exists, and has for thousands of years.

The Institute for Popular Education (IEP) and Other Worlds collaborated to document this below-the-radar gift system called dama, in which human beings have more worth than the market. The

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