Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire

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Overview

“If anthropology consists of making the apparently wild thought of others logically compelling in their own cultural settings and intellectually revealing of the human condition, then David Graeber is the consummate anthropologist. Not only does he accomplish this profound feat, he redoubles it by the critical task—now more urgent than ever—of making the possibilities of other people’s worlds the basis for understanding our own.” —Marshall Sahlins, University of Chicago

“Graeber’s ideas are rich and wide-ranging; he pushes us to expand the boundaries of what we admit to be possible, or even thinkable.”—Steven Shaviro, Wayne State University

In this new collection, David Graeber revisits questions raised in his popular book, Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology. Written in an unpretentious style that uses accessible and entertaining language to convey complex theoretical ideas, these twelve essays cover a lot of ground, including the origins of capitalism, the history of European table manners, love potions in rural Madagascar, and the phenomenology of giant puppets at street protests. But they’re linked by a clear purpose: to explore the nature of social power and the forms that resistance to it have taken, or might take in the future.

Anarchism is currently undergoing a worldwide revival, in many ways replacing Marxism as the theoretical and moral center of new revolutionary social movements. It has, however, left little mark on the academy. While anarchists and other visionaries have turned to anthropology for ideas and inspiration, anthropologists are reluctant to enter into serious dialogue. David Graeber is not. These essays, spanning almost twenty years, show how scholarly concerns can be of use to radical social movements, and how the perspectives of such movements shed new light on debates within the academy.

David Graeber has written for Harper’s Magazine, New Left Review, and numerous scholarly journals. He is the author or editor of four books and currently lives in New York City.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781904859666
  • Publisher: AK Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 1,020,847
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

David Graeber is an anthropologist and activist who currently teaches at the University of London and has been active in direct-action groups, including the Direct Action Network, People's Global Action, and Anti-Capitalist Convergence. He is the author of Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value, and Lost People: Magic and the Legacy of Slavery in Madagascar.

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Table of Contents


Introduction     1
Some Thoughts on the Origins of Our Current Predicament
Manners, Deference, and Private Property: Or, Elements for a General Theory of Hierarchy     13
The Very Idea of Consumption: Desire, Phantasms, and the Aesthetics of Destruction from Medieval Times to the Present     57
Turning Modes of Production Inside-Out: Or, Why Capitalism Is a Transformation of Slavery (short version)     85
Fetishism as Social Creativity: Or, Fetishes Are Gods in the Process of Construction     113
Provisional Autonomous Zone: Dilemmas of Authority in Rural Madagascar
Provisional Autonomous Zone: Or, The Ghost-State in Madagascar     157
Dancing with Corpses Reconsidered: An Interpretation of Famadihana (in Arivonimamo, Madagascar)     181
Love Magic and Political Morality in Central Madagascar, 1875-1990     223
Oppression     255
Direct Action, Direct Democracy, and Social Theory
The Twilight of Vanguardism     301
Social Theory as Science and Utopia: Or, Does the Prospect of a General Sociological Theory Still Mean Anything in an Age of Globalization?     313
There Never Was a West: Or, Democracy Emerges From the Spaces in Between     329
On the Phenomenology of Giant Puppets: Broken Windows, Imaginary Jars of Urine, and the Cosmological Role of the Police in American Culture     375
Index     419
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