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About David Graeber
David Rolfe Graeber (/ˈɡreɪbər/; born 12 February 1961) is a London-based anthropologist and anarchist activist, perhaps best known for his 2011 volume Debt: The First 5000 Years. He is Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics.
As an assistant professor and associate professor of anthropology at Yale from 1998–2007 he specialised in theories of value and social theory. The university's decision not to rehire him when he would otherwise have become eligible for tenure sparked an academic controversy, and a petition with more than 4,500 signatures. He went on to become, from 2007–13, Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London.
His activism includes protests against the 3rd Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001, and the 2002 World Economic Forum in New York City. Graeber was a leading figure in the Occupy Wall Street movement, and is sometimes credited with having coined the slogan, "We are the 99 percent".
Bio from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Photo by David Graeber Edited by czar [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
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Books By David Graeber
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AND SUNDAY TIMES, OBSERVER AND BBC HISTORY BOOK OF THE YEAR
FINALIST FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE FOR POLITICAL WRITING 2022
'Pacey and potentially revolutionary' Sunday Times
'Iconoclastic and irreverent ... an exhilarating read' The Guardian
For generations, our remote ancestors have been cast as primitive and childlike - either free and equal, or thuggish and warlike. Civilization, we are told, could be achieved only by sacrificing those original freedoms or, alternatively, by taming our baser instincts. David Graeber and David Wengrow show how such theories first emerged in the eighteenth century as a reaction to indigenous critiques of European society, and why they are wrong. In doing so, they overturn our view of human history, including the origins of farming, property, cities, democracy, slavery and civilization itself.
Drawing on path-breaking research in archaeology and anthropology, the authors show how history becomes a far more interesting place once we begin to see what's really there. If humans did not spend 95 per cent of their evolutionary past in tiny bands of hunter-gatherers, what were they doing all that time? If agriculture, and cities, did not mean a plunge into hierarchy and domination, then what kinds of social and economic organization did they lead to? The answers are often unexpected, and suggest that the course of history may be less set in stone, and more full of playful possibilities than we tend to assume.
The Dawn of Everything fundamentally transforms our understanding of the human past and offers a path toward imagining new forms of freedom, new ways of organizing society. This is a monumental book of formidable intellectual range, animated by curiosity, moral vision and faith in the power of direct action.
'This is not a book. This is an intellectual feast' Nassim Nicholas Taleb
'The most profound and exciting book I've read in thirty years' Robin D. G. Kelley
'Spectacular and terrifyingly true' Owen Jones
'Thought-provoking and funny' The Times
Up to 40% of us secretly believe our jobs probably aren't necessary. In other words: they are bullshit jobs. This book shows why, and what we can do about it.
In the early twentieth century, people prophesied that technology would see us all working fifteen-hour weeks and driving flying cars. Instead, something curious happened. Not only have the flying cars not materialised, but average working hours have increased rather than decreased. And now, across the developed world, three-quarters of all jobs are in services, finance or admin: jobs that don't seem to contribute anything to society. In Bullshit Jobs, David Graeber explores how this phenomenon - one more associated with the Soviet Union, but which capitalism was supposed to eliminate - has happened. In doing so, he looks at how, rather than producing anything, work has become an end in itself; the way such work maintains the current broken system of finance capital; and, finally, how we can get out of it.
This book is for anyone whose heart has sunk at the sight of a whiteboard, who believes 'workshops' should only be for making things, or who just suspects that there might be a better way to run our world.
Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom: he shows that before there was money, there was debt. For more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.
Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it.
Where does the desire for endless rules, regulations, and bureaucracy come from? How did we come to spend so much of our time filling out forms? And is it really a cipher for state violence?
To answer these questions, the anthropologist David Graeber—one of our most important and provocative thinkers—traces the peculiar and unexpected ways we relate to bureaucracy today, and reveals how it shapes our lives in ways we may not even notice…though he also suggests that there may be something perversely appealing—even romantic—about bureaucracy.
Leaping from the ascendance of right-wing economics to the hidden meanings behind Sherlock Holmes and Batman, The Utopia of Rules is at once a powerful work of social theory in the tradition of Foucault and Marx, and an entertaining reckoning with popular culture that calls to mind Slavoj Zizek at his most accessible.
An essential book for our times, The Utopia of Rules is sure to start a million conversations about the institutions that rule over us—and the better, freer world we should, perhaps, begin to imagine for ourselves.
Debt is one of the great subjects of our day, and understanding the way that it not only fuels economic growth, but can also be used as a means of generating profit and exerting control, is central to grasping the way in which our society really works.
David Graeber's contribution to this debate is to apply his anthropologists' training to the understanding of a phenomenon often considered purely from an economic point of view. In this respect, the book can be considered a fine example of the critical thinking skill of problem-solving. Graeber's main aim is to undermine the dominant narrative, which sees debt as the natural – and broadly healthy – outcome of the development of a modern economic system. He marshals evidence that supports alternative possibilities, and suggests that the phenomenon of debt emerged not as a result of the introduction of money, but at precisely the same time.
This in turn allows Graeber to argue against the prevailing notion that economy and state are fundamentally separate entities. Rather, he says, "the two were born together and have always been intertwined" – with debt being a means of enforcing elite and state power. For Graeber, this evaluation of the evidence points to a strong potential solution: there should be more readiness to write off debt, and more public involvement in the debate over debt and its moral implications.
Reflecting on issues such as temporality, alterity, and utopia—not to mention the divine, the strange, the numinous, and the bestial—Graeber and Sahlins explore the role of kings as they have existed around the world, from the BaKongo to the Aztec to the Shilluk and beyond. Richly delivered with the wit and sharp analysis characteristic of Graeber and Sahlins, this book opens up new avenues for the anthropological study of this fascinating and ubiquitous political figure.
The Democracy Project is an exploration of anti-capitalist dissent and new political ideas from David Graeber, author of Debt: The First 5,000 Years and a leading member of the Occupy movement.
From the earliest meetings for Occupy Wall Street, David Graeber - activist, anarchist, and anthropologist - felt that something was different from previous demonstrations. As events gathered pace, from local actions like illegally teaching a seminar in the Bank of America lobby (in a tweed jacket he'd borrowed to look the part) to his harassment and attempted intimidation by New York police in Zuccotti Park, Graeber saw the other Occupy movements in Cairo, Athens, Barcelona and London and knew that times were truly changing.
This witty, provocative, yet wide-ranging and ideas-driven look at the actions of the 99% is a vital read in today's protest climate, and asks: why did it work this time? What went right? And what can we all do now to make our world democratic once again? An energetic account of contemporary events, The Democracy Project will change the way you think about anarchism and political organization.
David Graeber is a radical anthropologist at Goldsmiths, University of London, who has been involved with the Occupy movement, most actively at Wall Street. He has written for many publications including Harper's, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and The Guardian. He is also the author, most recently, of the widely praised Debt: The First 5,000 Years, as well as many books on social organization and revolution including Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value, Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, Direct Action: An Ethnography.
'I have twice given away David Graeber's Debt: The First 5,000 Years, and Christmas will not change my habits. The book is more readable and entertaining than I can indicate' Peter Carey, Observer, Books of the Year
'Debt:The First 5,000 Years by Goldsmiths College anthropologist David Graeber has become one of the year's most influential books' Paul Mason, Guardian Books of 2011
Graeber has offered up perhaps the most credible path for exiting capitalism—as much through his writing about debt, bureaucracy, or “bullshit jobs” as through his crucial involvement in the Occupy Wall Street movement, which led to his more-or-less involuntary exile from the American academy. In short, Anarchy—In a Manner of Speaking presents a series of interviews with a first-rate intellectual, a veritable modern hero on the order of Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Linus Torvald, Aaron Swartz, and Elon Musk.
Interviewers Mehdi Belhaj Kacem and Assia Turquier-Zauberman asked Graeber not only about the history of anarchy, but also about its contemporary relevance and future. Their conversation also explores the ties between anthropology and anarchism, and the traces of its DNA in the Occupy Wall Street and Yellow Vest movements. Finally, Graeber discussed the meaning of anarchist ethics—not only in the political realm, but also in terms of art, love, sexuality, and more. With astonishing humor, verve, and erudition, this book redefines the contours of what could be (in the words of Peter Kropotkin) “anarchist morality” today.
Ein großes Buch von gewaltiger intellektueller Bandbreite, neugierig, visionär, und ein Plädoyer für die Macht des direkten Handelns.
David Graeber, der bedeutendste Anthropologe unserer Zeit, und David Wengrow, einer der führenden Archäologen, entfalten in ihrer großen Menschheitsgeschichte, wie sich die Anfänge unserer Zivilisation mit der Zukunft der Menschheit neu denken und verbinden lässt. Sie revidieren unser bisheriges Menschenbild und erzählen Menschheitsgeschichte, wie sie noch nie erzählt wurde. Über Jahrtausende hinweg, lange vor der Aufklärung, wurde schon jede erdenkliche Form sozialer Organisation erfunden und nach Freiheit, Wissen und Glück gestrebt. Graeber und Wengrow zeigen, wie stark die indigene Perspektive das westliche Denken beeinflusst hat und wie wichtig ihre Rückgewinnung ist. Lebendig und überzeugend ermuntern sie uns, mutiger und entschiedener für eine andere Zukunft der Menschheit einzutreten und sie durch unser Handeln zu verändern.
David Graeber war der bedeutendste Kulturanthropologe seiner Generation, der wichtigste Vordenker der Occupy-Bewegung und ein weltbekannter Intellektueller. Er lebte seine Ideen von sozialer Gerechtigkeit und Befreiung, gab den Unterdrückten Hoffnung und inspirierte zahllose andere zur Nachfolge. Am 2. September 2020 starb David Graeber völlig überraschend im Alter von 59 Jahren in Venedig; drei Wochen zuvor hatten er und David Wengrow "Anfänge. Eine neue Geschichte der Menschheit" beendet. Vor mehr als zehn Jahren hatten beide Autoren begonnen an diesem Opus magnum außerhalb ihrer akademischen Verpflichtungen aufgenommen: Ein Anthropologe und ein Archäologe beleben mit dem heute vorhandenen Quellenmaterial den großen Dialog über die menschliche Geschichte wieder. Dieses Meisterwerk ist das Vermächtnis von David Graeber.
» ›Anfänge. Eine neue Geschichte der Menschheit‹ ist eine Synthese neuerer Forschungen. Dieses Buch verwirft alte und überholte Annahmen über die Vergangenheit, erneuert unsere intellektuellen und spirituellen Ressourcen und enthüllt auf wundersame Weise die Zukunft der Menschheit als offenes Ende. Es ist das erfrischendste Buch, das ich in den letzten Jahren gelesen habe.«
Pankaj Mishra, Autor von
Das Zeitalter des Zorns: Eine Geschichte der Gegenwart
»Indem Graeber und Wengrow die neuesten archäologischen Forschungen und die jüngsten anthropologischen Aufzeichnungen durchforsten, zeigen uns die Autoren eine Welt, die vielfältiger und unerwarteter ist, als wir sie kannten, und offener und freier, als wir sie uns vorstellen. Dies ist Sozialtheorie im großen, altmodischen Sinne, vorgetragen mit fesselnder Geschwindigkeit und einem erheiternden Gefühl der Entdeckung.«
Corey Robin, Brooklyn College and Graduate Center, New York, Autor von
The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Donald Trump
»Das ist kein Buch. Das ist ein intellektuelles Fest. Es gibt kein einziges Kapitel, das (spielerisch) angepasste und eingeschliffene intellektuelle Überzeugungen umstößt. Es ist tiefgründig, mühelos ikonoklastisch, faktisch rigoros und angenehm zu lesen.«
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Autor von
Der schwarze Schwan
»Ein faszinierendes Werk, das uns dazu bringt, die Natur der menschlichen Fähigkeiten neu zu überdenken.
David Graebers Lektüren historischer Entwicklungen verliefen schon immer gegen den Strich sowohl des liberalen wie des linken Mainstreams. Auf Grundlage seiner theoretischen wie praktischen Erfahrungen als Ethnologe und Anthropologe diskutiert er hier mit dem tunesisch-französischen Philosophen Mehdi Belhaj Kacem und der Anthropologin Assia Turquier-Zauberman die Genealogie anarchistischen Denkens und die möglichen Perspektiven für eine Politik des 21. Jahrhunderts. In einem Parcour quer zu den bekannten Linien des historischen Anarchismus und vor dem Hintergrund von Bewegungen wie Occupy Wall Street und Gilets Jaunes geht es darum, dem politischen Denken jenseits der allgemeinen Alternativlosigkeiten und politischen Schemata neue Impulse zu verschaffen. Der rasante Polylog exponiert Graeber dabei als geistreichen Querdenker und radikalen Aktivisten.