This article examines Ḥarāṭīn (ex-slaves and slave descendants) exchange at a rural Mauritanian wedding. Hierarchy is constituted and reworked through exchange, particularly the redistribution of wealth that it allows, which makes it a rich site to examine how rank and status are generated. I analyze how people attempt to do this by asserting both themselves and other exchange participants as generous, valued persons. While I focus on exchanges of material goods, particularly the return of bridewealth, I also explore the ways in which the circulation of nonmaterial goods—especially talk—is essential to these processes as people attempt to extend the effectiveness of their transactions in space and time. Such talk becomes especially important in times of economic volatility, when enduring wealth is increasingly difficult to attain.


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pp. 48-69
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