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This chapter is a study of Nuruddin Farah’s Gifts. It examines the novel’s articulation of an alternative model of giving to that of Western humanitarian aid, which has deprived the Somali people of their autonomy and humanity because it dehumanizes them by reducing them to the passive victims of famine, civil war, and recipients of aid. The novel transforms Marcel Mauss’s theory of the gift by exploring the phenomenological dimension of giving—the opening of a world—and how storytelling is an ethical form of reciprocal giving. Western humanitarianism is based on an idea of philanthropy that is shaped by the...

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