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Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (2005)

by David Graeber

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337355,925 (4.02)5
Everywhere anarchism is on the upswing as a political philosophy--everywhere, that is, except the academy. Anarchists repeatedly appeal to anthropologists for ideas about how society might be reorganized on a more egalitarian, less alienating basis. Anthropologists, terrified of being accused of romanticism, respond with silence . . . . But what if they didn't? This pamphlet ponders what that response would be, and explores the implications of linking anthropology to anarchism. Here, David Graeber invites readers to imagine this discipline that currently only exists in the realm of possibility: anarchist anthropology.… (more)
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At the start of the book, Graeber discusses the differences between anarchism and Marxism as liberatory philosophies, a worthy and interesting topic. He is insightful, bringing to light the tendency of Marxists to name their sects after the people who wrote them (amusingly the list evolves from state leaders to academics), and the tendency to name anarchist sects by the manner in which the sect organizes. Then he spends a good deal of the book defining sets of theories, papers, and books that he would like to see written. Well, ya, I'd like to see those too. wtf?

The third part of the book, concentrating on the debunking of the Orientalist myth of the Western world vs. barbarians who don't know any better. Rather than dictate what shoud be done as a Marxist might, Graeber analyzes, in a brilliant way, what humans already do, and highlights their anarchist tendencies by reframing them as such. He then points out that the anarchist inspired new-internationalist "anti-globalization" movement is drawing upon these traditions of "true" democracy.

Finally, he makes a good argument that anthropologists are very qualified (as people who have studied a diverse range of ways of living that even the most well educated philosophy academic could barely imagine) to make radical assertions and participate in the creation of a world that allows many worlds. He makes the point that in anthropology one uses a vocabulary taken from all parts of the globe: mana, taboo, totem. Philosophy, political science, economics, tend only to use the vocabulary that stems from the Western experience: Greek, Latin, or German.

Graeber is refreshing and thoughtful. His words are encouraging and affirming. What a shame that he won't be around in the states for a while. I truly enjoyed reading this book, even online, where I normally can't get through more than three pages without being distracted by the other treats of the internet.

available online here (PDF):
http://www.prickly-paradigm.com/paradigm14.pdf ( )
  magonistarevolt | Apr 30, 2020 |
I realize I am an anarchist at heart after reading this account. Graeber gives a grounding approach towards a sidelined topic. I will be researching the subject because of Graeber’s sincere searching. ( )
1 vote DouglasDuff | Jul 11, 2019 |
I love this stuff. Gothic biology meets politics. ( )
1 vote herbruhs | Mar 18, 2008 |
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Ce qui suit est une série de pensées, d'ébauches de théories potentielles et de petits manifestes qui visent à donner un aperçu des grandes lignes d'une théorie radicale qui n'existe pas comme telle, mais qui pourrait un jour exister.
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Everywhere anarchism is on the upswing as a political philosophy--everywhere, that is, except the academy. Anarchists repeatedly appeal to anthropologists for ideas about how society might be reorganized on a more egalitarian, less alienating basis. Anthropologists, terrified of being accused of romanticism, respond with silence . . . . But what if they didn't? This pamphlet ponders what that response would be, and explores the implications of linking anthropology to anarchism. Here, David Graeber invites readers to imagine this discipline that currently only exists in the realm of possibility: anarchist anthropology.

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