Reciprocal Exchange and Community Vitality: The Case of Gortshom Village in Eastern Bhutan

Kinga, Sonam

In: Towards Global Transformation: Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Gross National Happiness. Thimphu, The Centre for Bhutan Studies 2008, pp. 31-64 . ISBN 99936-14-42-4

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The vibrancy and vitality of community life is indispensable in realising the goals of Gross National Happiness. The fact that Bhutan is largely a Kingdom consisting of many subsistence farming villages require an objective understanding of the dynamics of community life. A 'hot' community that retains and regenerates its vitality overtime is one that takes cognizance of social, cultural, economic and political life based on active participation of its members characterised by upholding its core values and reciprocal exchanges of resources. The author discusses a case of Gortshom by studying three attributes of its community life: local festival as the cultural, marriage as the social, and labour exchange as the economic dimension. In assessing whether this community is vibrant and interactive, the author discusses how responsive it is to challenges posed by modernisation and development. The responsiveness of the community is expressed in adjustment it makes to address these challenges. In making these adjustments, farmers have not abandoned the basic premise on which subsistence livelihood was secured and social and cultural life enacted. This premise is the social and economic exchanges underscored by principles of reciprocity as well as participation in village festival. However, while the premise is not abandoned, adjustments require that exchange obligations are kept alive in memory. Memory of exchange relationship has to be pronounced because of scarce labour as well as diffusing marriage ties. The paper is based on the ethnography of Gortshom village in Lhuntse, which was submitted in partial fulfilment of the pre-doctoral course to the Graduate School of Asian and African Studies at Kyoto University, Japan in February 2007.

Document type: Book Section
Version: Secondary publication
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2010 14:33
ISBN: 99936-14-42-4
Faculties / Institutes: Research Organisations / Academies > Centre for Bhutan Studies
DDC-classification: Customs, etiquette, folklore
Controlled Keywords: Bhutan <Ost>, Landleben, Heirat, Arbeitsmarkt
Uncontrolled Keywords: Gortshom , Dorfleben , Festival , Arbeitsvermittlung, Eastern Bhutan , Gortshom , Village Life , Marriage , Labour Exchange
Subject (classification): Anthropology
Countries/Regions: Bhutan
Additional Information: Also available at