Show Less
Restricted access

Exploring Commodities

An Anthropologist on the Trails of Malinowski and Traven in Mexico

Scott Cook

Commodities of one type or other have been produced, transferred and consumed in the economic life of humanity through every epoch of its development and forms of sociocultural organization, but are pervasive in the varieties of capitalism dominating contemporary world economies. Even labor, a necessary element in all forms of commodity production, has itself been commoditized. Embodying three kinds of potentially realizable value – use, exchange, and symbolic – commodities reflect and affect various facets of humanity’s sociocultural life. They have been investigated by knowledge producers ranging from Aristotle and Ibn Khaldun through Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Karl Marx down to a whole host of twentieth-century economists and others like the anthropologist, Bronislaw Malinowski, and the storyteller, B. Traven.

In this book noted economic anthropologist Scott Cook draws on many decades of fieldwork in the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Tamaulipas to take on the challenge of crafting an academic memoir designed to provide insights into the role of commodities in his own life and times and especially in his anthropological career. He undertakes this project in conjunction with a running interpretation of the contrasting approaches of Malinowski and Traven to the topic of commodity production and exchange in Mexico.

Show Summary Details
Restricted access

List of Photographs

List of Photographs


  1.June 16, 1940, Pittsburgh

  2.Winter, 1943, Daytona Beach

  3.San Antonio, Texas 1946, school play “pilgrim” with Red Ryder BB rifle

  4.San Antonio, Texas, 1946, first bike

  5.Austin, Texas ca. 1953

  6.June, 1959 with Hilda, American University graduation

  7.Cutting cane in Magdalena, Ocotlán, Oaxaca, 1968

  8.Oaxaca Shoot, Tlacolula marketplace, 1990

  9.With H. A. Cook (dad) in his Asheville, NC shop, late 1990s

10.Texas State University, talk and photo exhibit, 2013

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.