The project GIFTS/PRESENTS/PRESENCE: Meanings and Materialities is a transdisciplinary project which brings together scholars from the fields of sociology, philosophy/bioscience, and literary studies as well as a multimedia artist. Our main aim in the project is to analyse how recent changes and challenges in technology, genetics, politics, and bioethics have affected our existing ideas of gift-giving and gift exchange, and how they invite us to rethink the gift. On the one hand, we aspire to write a history of the present by going back to the emergence of the modern discourses of the gift at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and tracing their development up until nowadays. On the other hand, we explore contemporary manifestations of the gift and ask what the gift means and does for us today – what kind of relations, assemblages, and agencies it fosters, sustains, enacts, and makes possible? While the main emphasis of the project is in gift theory, we also cross-pollinate research and artistic practices in a way that hopefully results in unforeseen insights and perspectives. Through their close entanglement we also wish to disrupt conventions and taken-for-granted modes of academic knowledge production.


The project is funded by the Kone Foundation (2021–2024)