Possibilities Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire

David Graeber (Author)

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Publisher: AK Press
Binding: pb
Pages: 400
Released: January 9, 2007
ISBN-13: 9781904859666

"If anthropology consists of making others logically compelling in their own cultural settings and intellectually revealing of the human condition, then David Graeber is the consumate 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

In this collection, David Graeber revisits questions raised in his popular book, Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology. Employing an unpretentious style to convey complex ideas, these twelve essays cover a lot of ground: the origins of capitalism, the history of European table manners, love potions and gender in rural Madagascar, the phenomenology of giant puppets at street protests, and much more. 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.

In the best anthropological tradition, Graeber uses rich ethnographic and historical detail to support and illuminate broad insights into human nature and society. In the process, he shows 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.

"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

David Graeber is an anthropologist and activist, who currently teaches at the University of London and has been active in direct action groups, such as the Direct Action Network and People's Global Action. He has written for Harper's Magazine and New Left Review, and his books include Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value; Lost People: Magic and the Legacy of Slavery in Madagascar; and Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigation, Collective Theorization (edited with Stevphen Shukaitis and Erika Biddle).

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction
PART I: SOME THOUGHTS ON THE ORIGINS OF OUR CURRENT PREDICAMENT
1 Manners, Deference, and Private Property: Or, Elements for a General Theory of Hierarchy
2 The Very Idea of Consumption: Desire, Phantasms, and the Aesthetics of Destruction from Medieval Times to the Present
3 Turning Modes of Production Inside-Out: Or, Why Capitalism Is a Transformation of Slavery (short version)
4 Fetishism as Social Creativity: Or, Fetishes Are Gods in the Process of Construction
PART II: PROVISIONAL AUTONOMOUS ZONE: DILEMMAS OF AUTHORITY IN RURAL MADAGASCAR
5 Provisional Autonomous Zone: Or, The Ghost-State in Madagascar
6 Dancing with Corpses Reconsidered: An Interpretation of Famadihana (in Arivonimamo, Madagascar)
7 Love Magic and Political Morality in Central Madagascar, 1875–1990
8 Oppression
PART III: DIRECT ACTION, DIRECT DEMOCRACY, AND SOCIAL THEORY
9 The Twilight of Vanguardism
10 Social Theory as Science and Utopia: Or, Does the Prospect of a General Sociological Theory Still Mean Anything in an Age of Globalization?
11 There Never Was a West: Or, Democracy Emerges From the Spaces in Between
12 On the Phenomenology of Giant Puppets: Broken Windows, Imaginary Jars of Urine, and the Cosmological Role of the Police in American Culture
Index

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