Graeber did postgraduate work with tribal cultures in Madagascar , including one with the Tsimihety in the northwest of the country. The Tsimihety, rejecting all governmental authority and organizing their society along very egalitarian lines, were able to continue their autonomy and culture for decades on end, up to the present, not by confronting the government, but by retreating. Graeber writes, To this day they have maintained a reputation as masters of evasion: under the French, administrators would complain that they could send delegations to arrange for labor to build a road near a Tsimihety village, negotiate the terms with apparently cooperative elders, and return with the equipment a week later only to discover the village entirely abandoned—every single inhabitant had moved in with some relative in another part of the country. It is, for example, the only discipline in a position to make generalizations about humanity as a whole—since it is the only discipline that actually takes all of humanity into account, and is familiar with all the anomalous cases. Graeber further claims: "1. Marxism has tended to be a theoretical or analytical discourse about revolutionary strategy.
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Shelves: politics In this short book David Graeber maps out the research agenda that he has zealously pursued over the last fifteen years, punctuated by milestone publications such as Debt, The Democracy Project and Bullshit Jobs, amongst others. Graebers leading question is: "What sort of social theory would actually be of interest to anarchists, i. Anarchists are, by the very nature of their political In this short book David Graeber maps out the research agenda that he has zealously pursued over the last fifteen years, punctuated by milestone publications such as Debt, The Democracy Project and Bullshit Jobs, amongst others.
These logics can be quite impactful in debunking disempowering orthodoxies. And then the old evolutionist perspectives that sees the state primarily as a more sophisticated form of organization than what had come before. Anthropologists such as Marcel Mauss and Pierre Clastres have shown that these received ideas are ideological spin.
There are examples of communities that have intentionally created social institutions in opposition to the state and capital. This leads to the idea "that anarchist forms of organization would not look anything like a state. That they would involve an endless variety of communities, associations, networks, projects, on every conceivable scale, overlapping and intersecting in any way we could imagine. Graeber outlines a research program that should help to put flesh on the bone of such a theory.
And once such a theory is in place, it can help anarchists to more effectively pursue their political goals: the revitalization of democracy, the struggle against senseless, disempowering work, and the elemination of North-South inequalities. It lived up to everything she said, and then some. But in just over pages, he very lucidly lays out a description of the political philosophy, the problems it faces in academic adoption, and the case for anthropological study of anarchist groups.
Incidentally, his description This was another assigned book, and one my professor had raved about reading. Incidentally, his description makes anarchy sound a lot more appealing than I had thought of it earlier, but consistent with the tenets of anarchism that he describes, he is not proselytizing. Interspersed throughout are subtle and clever jokes that struck me as an unusual but welcome addition to what could have been a very dry academic text.
His title is an apt one: the book comes across in some places as fragmented, and certain concepts which could be the basis for whole monographs sometimes get treated with one or two sentences. For its length and intents, though, this book is a fantastic introduction to the concepts discussed therein.
Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology