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Yapa Batjikali’s entrepreneurial girri’ (personal effects, material goods, ‘stuff’) business: Affect, emotion and Yolŋu exchange relations (Blakeman 2013)

Yapa Batjikali’s entrepreneurial girri’ (personal effects, material goods, ‘stuff’) business: Affect, emotion and Yolŋu exchange relations (Blakeman 2013)

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Published by evelyn_enduatta
A paper presented at the Australian Anthropological Society conference, Canberra, November 2013.
A paper presented at the Australian Anthropological Society conference, Canberra, November 2013.

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Published by: evelyn_enduatta on Nov 15, 2013
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BREE BLAKEMAN AAS PAPER 2013 1
Free to copy, distribute or display with attribution.
Yapa
 Batjikali’s entrepreneurial
girri’
 (personal effects, material goods, ‘stuff’) business: Affect/emotion and Yol
!
u exchange relations
What do emotion terms matter to the study of Aboriginal sociality and exchange? The study of affect/emotion is often considered a speciality topic or focus in anthropology. However, in this paper I argue that terms and concepts associated with affect/emotion are critical to a close appreciation of the way people consider value in material exchange. This paper centres around the following case study:
 yapa
 Batjikali’s entrepreneurial
girri’
 business:
Yapa
 (Z) Batjikali had been running (what was recognised to be) a successful
girri’
 (material goods, personal effects, ‘stuff’) business since before my arrival in camp. It was organised in such a way that she would purchase imported Indonesian clothing, bed-sheets, material, and other small-goods from Lynea [Lyn], a East Timorese small business owner who had a business in the nearby mining township. Batijikali had adopted Lyn (into the kinship system) as
 yapa
 (sister). Every four months or so Batjikali would purchase a number of large boxes full of goods from Lyn, often on ‘tick,’ or in exchange for Batjikali giving Lyn her bankcard to hold for an indefinite period of time with the pin number written on the back. Batjikali then sold the
girri’
 at the nearby island community of Galuma, usually on the designated market day. She didn’t go on a regular basis for this purpose; more just when opportunity allowed. Given the nature of the universal or classificatory kinship system, Batjikali’s customers were almost exclusively close or extended kin.
 
BREE BLAKEMAN AAS PAPER 2013 2
Free to copy, distribute or display with attribution. On this particular day Batjikali and I were folding and packing the last of the
girri’
 she had in stock. She was flying over to Galuma Island for a meeting, which was to coincide with market day. Out of curiosity I asked how much she sold the items we were folding for. She was uncharacteristically circumspect. After another while I asked how much Lyn charged her for the items. She gave me a whole amount per box, which would have contained approximately sixty items. We kept packing. A few moments later, clearly having thought my question through, she repeated how much she paid per box, before pausing to explain:
Yapa
 Lyn asks a big price. I make it easy for people.
Yaka
 (not) making it hard, I’m a kind-heart woman, I allow my things, I only ask a little bit of money for that
girri
.” It was clear that
 yapa
 Batjikali was selling the
girri’
 at less than cost price – and that she was more than aware that she was doing so. And yet, she was running what she and others considered to be a ‘successful’
girri’
 business. I should note that Batjikali was employed as the manager of a dress-selling business at the Methodist Mission on Galuma Island during Mission Time in the 1970s. Her responsibilities included ordering stock and recording and monitoring daily transactions. I also know from personal experience that her numeracy and mental arithmetic are far better than my own.
What is going on in this case? What can we say is the motivation behind Batjikali’s business? What value is being sought after or produced? And what might careful attention to terms and concepts associated with affect and emotion elucidate or bring to light about this case? To answer these questions I’ll first introduce a key body of terms and concepts in Yol
!
u-matha, before addressing the different dimensions of this case in turn.
 
BREE BLAKEMAN AAS PAPER 2013 3
Free to copy, distribute or display with attribution. The local template of morality/value

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