David Graeber

David Graeber
The London School of Economics and Political Science | LSE · Department of Anthropology

About

113
Publications
30,645
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5,711
Citations
Citations since 2017
5 Research Items
3649 Citations
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20172018201920202021202220230100200300400500600
20172018201920202021202220230100200300400500600

Publications

Publications (113)
Article
Full-text available
El presente texto es la traducción del artículo originalmente aparecido en 2013 en HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory. Graeber resume diferentes concepciones y formas de entender el valor en Antropología. Expone cinco formas en las que lo que podría llamarse la teoría del valor de Chicago realiza intervenciones nuevas e importantes en cuestiones d...
Article
Full-text available
Anthropologists have traditionally classified foragers on the Pacific coast of North America into two major culture areas, characterized by strikingly different social and ethical systems. These are “California” and the adjacent “Northwest Coast.” Foragers in the northern part of California exhibit many elements of Weber's “Protestant ethic,” such...
Article
Comment on Ortner, Sherry. 2016. “Dark anthropology and its others: Theory since the eighties.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 6 (1): 47–73.
Article
Nina Živancevic : Nous sommes tous preoccupes par la crise europeenne, par les migrants et refugies, pas seulement en Grece mais aussi en « Mitteleuropa » ou dans l’Europe de l’Est. Consideres-tu ces differentes manifestations de la crise comme des elements isoles et differents ou les vois-tu comme des evenements intrinsequement connectes ? David G...
Article
Full-text available
As a response to Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s critique of my essay “Fetishes are gods in the process of construction,” this paper enters into critical engagement with anthropological proponents of what has been called the “ontological turn.” Among other engagements, I note that my own reflections on Malagasy fanafody, or medicine, are informed by j...
Article
Evidence of grand burials and monumental construction is a striking feature in the archaeological record of the Upper Palaeolithic period, between 40 and 10 kya (thousand years ago). Archaeologists often interpret such finds as indicators of rank and hierarchy among Pleistocene hunter-gatherers. Interpretations of this kind are difficult to reconci...
Article
What's the use if we can't have fun? The existence of play in the animal realm is considered a sort of intellectual scandal. The same is true for the more general idea of liberty – of a ludic liberty – within the natural world. Yet why does the possibility of actions made purely for fun produce such a reaction? Doesn't this enigma speak quite a lot...
Article
Many of the internal changes within anthropology as a discipline—particularly the "postmodern turn" of the 1980s—can only be understood in the context of broader changes in the class composition of the societies in which university departments exist, and, in particular, the role of the university in the reproduction of a professional-managerial cla...
Article
The gift is not a uniform economic category, since gifts are structured by different economic principles or moral rules which co-exist in all societies. Mauss showed that dominant economic forms, like capitalist markets or the heroic gift, often elevate one principle above the others, but ordinary people must combine them in order to get by. There...
Article
Full-text available
Many aspects of culture that we are used to interpreting in essentialist or even tacitly evolutionist terms might better be seen as acts of self-conscious rejection, or as formed through a schizmogenetic process of mutual definition against the values of neighbouring societies. What have been called 'heroic societies', for instance, seem to have fo...
Book
Há algumas razões evidentes para o apelo das ideias anarquistas no início do século XXI: a mais óbvia, os fracassos e as catástrofes resultantes de tantos esforços para suplantar o capitalismo assumindo o controle do aparato governamental nos cem anos anteriores. Um crescente número de revolucionários começou a reconhecer que “a revolução” não virá...
Article
The intellectual justification for austerity lies in ruins. It turns out that Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff, who originally framed the argument that too high a "debt-to-GDP ratio" will always, necessarily, lead to economic contraction – and who had aggressively promoted it during Rogoff's tenure as chief economist for the IMF –,...
Book
A bold rethinking of the most powerful political idea in the world—democracy—and the story of how radical democracy can yet transform America Democracy has been the American religion since before the Revolution—from New England town halls to the multicultural democracy of Atlantic pirate ships. But can our current political system, one that seems...
Article
What is a revolution? We used to think we knew. Revolutions were seizures of power by popular forces aiming to transform the very nature of the political, social, and economic system in the country in which the revolution took place, usually according to some visionary dream of a just society. Nowadays, we live in an age when, if rebel armies do co...
Article
Many aspects of culture that we are used to interpreting in essentialist or even tacitly evolutionist terms might better be seen as acts of self-conscious rejection, or as formed through a schizmogenetic process of mutual definition against the values of neighbouring societies. What have been called 'heroic societies', for instance, seem to have fo...
Book
Finora la ricerca antropologica si è chiesta non tanto perché la burocrazia produca assurdità, ma perché la gente ritenga «normale» tale assurdità. Qui Graeber va oltre e mette in discussione tutte le forme burocratiche di organizzazione sociale – dagli ospizi per anziani alle forze di polizia – rilevando come in ultima istanza la loro legittimità...
Article
Ever had the feeling that your job might be made up? That the world would keep on turning if you weren’t doing that thing you do 9-5? David Graeber explored the phenomenon of bullshit jobs for our recent summer issue – everyone who’s employed should read carefully…
Article
Any theoretical term is an implicit statement about human nature. Anthropologiststend to be uncomfortable with this fact but it is nonetheless true. Even if one were to make a statement as apparently innocuous as “ritual can take many forms in many places,” one is still asserting that “ritual” is a meaningful cross-cultural category, implying—as pr...
Article
The experience of bureaucratic incompetence, confusion, and its ability to cause otherwise intelligent people to behave outright foolishly, opens up a series of questions about the nature of power or, more specifically, structural violence. The unique qualities of violence as a form of action means that human relations ultimately founded on violenc...
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If "Occupy" evolves into a debt resistance movement, the results could be explosive. -- The idea of the “99 percent” managed to do something that no one has done in the United States since the Great Depression: revive the concept of social class as a political issue. What made this possible was a subtle change in the very nature of class power in t...
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Des militant-e-s d’Occupy Wall Street lancent ces jours-ci un appel à la "grève de la dette" : ils entendent constituer un vaste mouvement d’endetté-e-s qui refusent de continuer à rembourser les banques. L’objectif ? Mettre en évidence la centralité de la dette dans la domination qu’exercent les 1% sur les 99%. David Graeber imagine dans cet artic...
Article
The experience of bureaucratic incompetence, confusion, and its ability to cause otherwise intelligent people to behave outright foolishly, opens up a series of questions about the nature of power or, more specifically, structural violence. The unique qualities of violence as a form of action means that human relations ultimately founded on violenc...
Article
One of the most common objections to horizontal organization is that some sort of informal leadership will inevitably emerge. Some people have more time, energy, experience, resources, charisma, or, just care more about a project and will thus end up becoming more central to the group; they will inevitably begin coordinating with other more active...
Article
If you look just at how things look on paper, the entire world is awash in debt. All governments are in debt. Corporate debt is at historic highs. And so is what economists like to call “household debt” — both in the sense of how many people are in the red, and the sheer quantity of what they owe. There’s a consensus among economists that this is a...
Article
Terms such as 'fate' and 'luck' are ways of talking about the ambiguities and antinomies of temporal existence that all humans, even social theorists, have to confront in one form or another. Concepts that include mana, śakti, baraka, and orenda might best be considered as grappling with the exact same paradoxes. Nor should we assume that social sc...
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David Graeber talks with the Editor-in-Chief of Artforum about philosophy, totalities, insurrectionism, baseline communism, and his book Debt.
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Occupy's May Day rebirth, forging a new alliance of activists and union members, was a historic moment of anti-capitalist struggle
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Rebecca Solnit and David Graeber on anarchism as a problem-solving tool, the return of debtors’ prisons, and why communism is ingrained in capitalism.
Article
A secret question hovers over us, a sense of disappointment, a broken promise we were given as children about what our adult world was supposed to be like. I am referring not to the standard false promises that children are always given (about how the world is fair, or how those who work hard shall be rewarded), but to a particular generational pro...
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In response to “The Cancer in Occupy,” by Chris Hedges.
Article
As writers and artists invent currencies fit for the modern world, David Graeber reflects on the meaning of money What would you put on a banknote for our times?
Article
Perhaps the greatest world historian alive today, Immanuel Wallerstein, has argued that since 1789 all major revolutions have really been world revolutions.
Article
Since Frazer's time, Shilluk kingship has been a flashpoint of anthropological debates about the nature of sovereignty, and while such debates are now considered irrelevant to current debates on the subject, they need not be. This essay presents a detailed analysis of the history, myth, and ritual surrounding the Shilluk institution to propose a ne...
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The US imagines itself a great democracy, yet most Americans despise its politics. Which is why direct democracy inspires them
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The young people protesting in Wall Street and beyond reject this vain economic order. They have come to reclaim the future
Article
There is very good reason to believe that, in a generation or so, capitalism itself will no longer exist – most obviously, as ecologists keep reminding us, because it’s impossible to maintain an engine of perpetual growth forever on a finite planet, and the current form of capitalism doesn’t seem to be capable of generating the kind of vast technol...
Article
Beginning in the 1980s, anthropologists began to be bombarded with endless—and often strangely moralistic—exhortations to acknowledge the importance of something referred to as “consumption.” The exhortations were effective; for the past 2 decades, the term has become a staple of theoretical discourse. Rarely, however, do anthropologists examine it...
Article
“The funny thing is,” my Egyptian friend told me, “you’ve been doing this so long, you kind of forget that you can win. All these years, we’ve been organizing marches, rallies … And if only 45 people show up, you’re depressed. If you get 300, you’re happy. Then one day, you get 500,000. And you’re incredulous: on some level, you’d given up thinking...
Book
Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems—to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? There’s not a shred of evidence to support it. Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of convention...
Article
This article examines the role of values in the political discourse of the last decade in the US. It embarks from what many observers had described as a puzzle: the fact that significant parts of the American working class voted against their economic interests but in line with what they perceived to be their values. As a result, a president had be...
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Mesopotamian usury, Vedic accounting, American Jubilee: excavating the history of fiscal debt.
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Anarchist David Graeber discusses the current ecological crisis and workers' direct action.
Article
The Moral logic of Economic relations. A Maussian approach The gift is a much vexed concept, partly because the moral logic underlying different sorts of transaction lumped together under that rubric are in no way uniform. Drawing on Marcel Mauss’ assumption that all major social principles (individualism and communism, democracy and monarchy, etc....
Book
In the best tradition of participant-observation, anthropologist David Graeber undertakes the first detailed ethnographic study of the global justice movement. Starting from the assumption that, when dealing with possibilities of global transformation and emerging political forms, a disinterested, "objective" perspective is impossible, he writes as...
Article
If The Great Transformation will be remembered for anything a century from now, it will be as the definitive refutation of the great liberal myth of the market. By this I refer to the assumption that “self-regulating markets”, as Polanyi calls them, are in some sense natural: that markets will always arise of their own accord as long as governments...
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Radical social change will only emerge through the endless interplay of confrontations, withdrawals, foundations and subverisons.
Book
Naiyō shōkai Ima koko ni aru komyunizumu. “Anākisuto jinrui-gaku no tame no danshō” de Nihon no shisō-kai ni kyōretsuna inpakuto o ataeta devu~iddo gurēbā e no taibō no intabyū-shū. Zanshin'na gurēbā-teki kachi riron ga, kibō naki shihon shugi shisutemu no orutanativu o teiji suru. Dore hodo no dai kigyōdeare, sono naijitsu wa komyunizumu-tekide sh...
Article
Anthropologist David Graeber argues that it is only with a general historical understanding of debt and its relationship to violence that we can begin to appreciate our emerging epoch. Here he begins to fill in our historical knowledge gap
Article
The biggest problem facing direct action movements is that we don’t know how to handle victory. This might seem an odd thing to say because of a lot of us haven’t been feeling particularly victorious of late. Most anarchists today feel the global justice movement was kind of a blip: inspiring, certainly, while it lasted, but not a movement that suc...
Article
"All power to the imagination.” “Be realistic, demand the impossible…” Anyone involved in radical politics has heard these expressions a thousand times. Usually they charm and excite the first time one encounters them, then eventually become so familiar as to seem hackneyed, or just disappear into the ambient background noise of radical life. Rarel...
Book
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...
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Full-text available
Marxist theory has by now largely abandoned the (seriously flawed) notion of the ‘mode of production’, but doing so has only encouraged a trend to abandon much of what was radical about it and naturalize capitalist categories. This article argues a better conceived notion of a mode of production - one that recognizes the primacy of human production...
Article
Let me begin with a brief story about bureaucracy. Over the last year my mother had a series of strokes. It soon became obvious that she would eventually be incapable of living at home without assistance; since her insurance would not cover home care, a series of social workers advised us to put in for Medicaid. To qualify for Medicaid however, one...
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Full-text available
This article analyses the contrast between an exchange modality characterized by Mauss in the 1930's as "communist" and two others: agonistic and mercantile. Mauss was never a communist, but rather was a socialist. As such, he experienced the Russian Revolution as an ethnographer would, at the same time he considered it "an experiment". An importan...
Article
O ANTROPÓLOGO DAVID GRAEBER DEFENDE QUE O CAPITALISMO SERÁ SUPERADO SEM REVOLUÇÕES QUE TOMEM O CONTROLE DO ESTADO E QUE A DEMOCRACIA MAJORITÁRIA É INSEPARÁVEL DA VIOLÊNCIA ESTATAL
Article
Cet article résulte en grande partie de ma propre expérience du mouvement altermondialiste, où les enjeux de la démocratie ont été au cœur des débats. Les anarchistes en Europe ou en Amérique du nord, comme les organisations indigènes des pays du Sud, se sont tous trouvés pris dans des questionnements étonnamment proches : le concept de « démocrati...
Article
David Graeber er assisterende professor på Yale University og har læst hos bl.a. Marshall Sahlins og Terence Turner. Graeber lavede feltarbejde på Madagaskar fra 1989 til 1991 og har siden 2001 arbejdet på et forskningsprojekt om anarkisme, direkte handling og sociale bevægelser, der søger at forandre globaliseringen (ofte rubriceret under betegnel...
Article
Full-text available
The essay recounts the beginning of my fieldwork in a Malagasy rural community an hours drive from the capital of Antananarivo in 1990. The community itself was, at the time I arrived, locked in a kind of intense symbolic warfare between andriana descended from what might be called a noble clan and mainty, the descendants of their former slaves. Th...
Article
It is a little-known fact that no one at an anti-globalization protest in the United States has ever thrown a Molotov cocktail. Nor is there reason to believe global justice activists have planted bombs, pelted cops with bags of excrement or ripped up sidewalks to pummel them with chunks of concrete, thrown acid in policemen's faces or shot at them...
Article
Il m’est possible de répondre aux questions des organisateurs soit en tant qu’anthropologue, soit en tant que militant politique actif depuis quelques années au sein du mouvement de globalisation – généralement appelé mouvement « anti-mondialisation » – qui est en train de reformuler entièrement l’idée de révolution conformément à la transformation...
Book
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...
Article
On Saturday, February 15, anti-war rallies and marches spanned the globe. In what is being hailed as the largest single outpouring of grassroots opposition to war since Vietnam (and some say in history), diverse groups converged to flank the U.N. building in New York and crowd INS headquarters in Seattle, among other American cities. In Europe, cro...
Article
I spent 15 hours handcuffed on a bus with 44 other people, all charged with a crime that everyone, including the police, knew perfectly well we did not commit. At the Police Academy outside Washington where we were taken on September 27, stood a line of 13 buses, each one full of 45 innocent people. As sleepy Metro drivers slouched over the wheels,...
Article
The way you usually read about globalization protests in the media—even the progressive media—there are “good” protesters (labor unions or NGOs like Public Citizen and Global Exchange) and then there are “bad” protesters—scary, window-smashing anarchist kids whose senseless “violence” only acts to bring down police repression and undercut the good...
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Is the ‘anti-globalization movement’ anything of the kind? Active resistance is true globalization, David Graeber maintains, and its repertoire of forms is currently coming from the arsenal of a reinvented anarchism.
Article
The use of incremental and repeated exposures regimens have been put forth as effective means to mitigating visually induced motion sickness based on the Dual Process Theory (DPT) (Groves & Thompson, 1970) of neural plasticity. In essence, DPT suggests that by incrementing stimulus intensity the depression opponent process should exert greater cont...
Article
Compare two abandoned streets in Genoa during the weekend of the G8 summit, immediately after confrontations between protesters and police. The first, a mile-long stretch along Via Tolemaide overlooking a train yard where Ya Basta! had faced off against riot cops on July 20, was scattered with oddly whimsical debris: slabs of rubber padding, bits o...
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Money and Modernity: State and Local Currencies in Melanesia. David Akin and Joel Robbins. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999. viii. 284 pp., notes, bibliography, index.Border Fetishisms: Material Objects in Unstable Spaces. Patricia Spyer. London: Routledge Press, 1998. vii. 262 pp., illustrations, photographs, index.
Article
The single most dramatic moment of the protests in Quebec came on the first day of the summit, when the thousands of protesters who had marched through the city finally reached “the wall.” Until that point no one had seen a single cop. Now, a phalanx of riot police, armed to the teeth with tear gas, pepper bombs and plastic bullets, waited silently...
Article
One Market Under God: Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy, by Thomas Frank
Chapter
In this final chapter I want to move from an emphasis on value and exchange to the other side of the equation proposed in chapter 4 and to talk a little bit about the phenomenon of social power. Odd though it may seem, I think the easiest way to do this will be to look at the notion of fetishism—one that has cropped up periodically over the course...
Chapter
In earlier chapters, I have given Marcel Mauss’ work somewhat short shrift, particularly in comparison with that of Marx. In fact, I believe Mauss’ theoretical corpus is the single most important in the history of anthropology. He was a man with a remarkable knack for asking all the most interesting questions, even if he was also keenly aware in th...

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Project
book co-authored with the noted archaeologist David Wengrow, UCL, challenging accepted narratives of "the origins of inequality."