Focussing on the fact that Marshall Sahlins' work revolves around the Lévy-Strauss's theory of exchange, this article reinterprets the analysis of the first on the "trans-pacific sector of the 'world system'". Rather than a critique of Sahlins, this article proposes to further elaborate the latter's demonstration that the comprehension of "native" (or autochthonous, or indigenous) systems of exchange is a necessary condition for the comprehension of wider relations, such as those between these systems and their "capitalist" (or "Occidental", etc.) counterparts. This leads us to minimize the distinction between inter- and intra-cultural exchanges, a conclusion reinforced by a rapid look at the notion of exchange in the Elementary Structures of Kinship presented at the end of the article.
Lévi-Strauss; Marshall Sahlins; theory of exchange; world system