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Anthropology Beyond Capitalism

Inspired by the special issue on Beyond Capitalism in Anthropology News and the publication of excerpts from Guy Alperovitz’s America Beyond Capitalism in Truthout, a collection of related material from the anthropology blogs. Please let me know of additional resources!

Beyond Critique: Anthropology of and for Non-Capitalism, Boone Shear and Brian Burke
Critical theory is an important tool for describing and analyzing injustice and unsustainability. It helps us understand capitalist relations of production and commodity exchange as drivers of social alienation, massive inequalities, insecurity, and violence. We don’t want to abandon these insights. But intellectual traditions that suture together critique with a singular and determining “capitalist system” blind us to the long-recognized tenet that critique alone is insufficient, and they therefore hinder the creative construction of genuine alternatives. We think it is time to move beyond critique, to embrace the moral optimism of anthropology, and to join with our research subjects, who already desire non-capitalism and know that “another world is not only possible, it already exists.”
Anthropology News – Beyond Capitalism, January 2013

Anthropology Beyond CapitalismThe Challenge of the Era of Technological Abundance, Gar Alperovitz
Large-order institutional restructuring, we tend to forget, is exceedingly common in the long sweep of world history. The difficulty lies in pulling ourselves out of the present moment to consider our own possibilities in broader historical perspective.
We have begun a new century. The coming decades will establish the terms of reference for further, future change. It is not possible to know whether a new direction based on the developing ideas, models, practical experiments, and new alliance explorations can lay the foundations for the next political-economic system. Or whether, over time, a new basis can thereby be established for a politics capable of unleashing the moral energies that can flow from a renewed commitment to achieving equality, liberty, and democracy.
Truthout, 11 January 2013

La antropología en crisis, Tim Ingold entrevista por Vivian Scheinsohn
Tenemos que movernos más allá de la idea de que la antropología estudia las culturas. Necesitamos pensarla como una disciplina especulativa, que mira las posibilidades y potencialidades de los seres humanos. . . . Una de las principales tareas de la antropología es demostrar que hay formas distintas de ver las cosas, diferentes a lo que hoy es corriente en economía o en psicología. En ese sentido la antropología es una disciplina antidisciplinaria ya que está contra la idea de que todo el terreno del conocimiento puede dividirse en diferentes países, que estudian diferentes disciplinas. Además, la antropología es totalmente antiacadémica. Nos apoyamos en el mundo académico para existir pero siempre desafiando el modelo académico de producción de conocimiento. La antropología nos dice todo el tiempo que la gente con la que trabajamos es la que conoce lo que pasa, que deberíamos aprender de ellos.
Revista Ñ – ideas, 8 enero 2013

Anthropology: The landmark books, Ryan Anderson
I was just reading Eric Wolf’s Pathways of Power: Building an Anthropology of the Modern World, which has a really fascinating intellectual autobiography (the introduction of the book). Wolf lists three “landmark books” that he read early in his career that had tremendous impact upon his thinking:

The first was Karl Wittfogel’s Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft Chinas (1931), an extraordinary, ecologically oriented study of the Chinese economy, which dissented from the view that China was merely feudal and saw it instead as an instance of the Asiatic-bureaucracy mode of production. The second was Paul Sweezy’s The Theory of Capitalist Development (1942), which helped me systematize my understandings of Marxian political economy. The third was C.L.R. James’s The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (1938), on the slave rebellions of Haiti in the wake of the French Revolution, one of the first attempts to write a history of a people supposedly “without history.”

Following Wolf’s example, what are YOUR three landmark books? What are the three books that most influenced how you think about, and practice, anthropology?
Savage Minds, 11 January 2013

Graeber on Money, Honor, Debt, and Freedom
Has money always been used for buying things? Were debt crises in the ancient world addressed in the same way they are now? What does honor and patriarchy have to do with debt? And what should we know about the origins of our cherished modern conceptions of liberty and property? David Graeber considers the tumultuous present in light of the past.
Note: Thanks to Discuss White Privilege for the link.
Against the Grain, 7 January 2013

Who Built the Internet? Corporations! (Part 2), Adam Fish
Crovitz is attempting to reengineer the history of the internet in order to have an origin story more in line with the technolibertarianism advanced by Thierer. If the internet is not made by the state then the state has no right to manage it. If it is made by corporations then corporations are the rightful heirs to the internet. In the following posts I will introduce how another depiction of the origin of the internet carries its own ideology despite its historical accuracy.
Savage Minds, 11 January 2013

800 Words on Idle No More, Bob Muckle
The amount of support demonstrated by the Idle No More movements within Canada, the US, and elsewhere will be fundamentally important. If there is relatively little support, I think the movement will fizzle. If the support is significant, however, look for the movement to escalate further, into the United States and perhaps elsewhere.
American Anthropological Association Blog, 10 January 2013

Awakening to a New Era: Occupy, Idle No More and the Zapatistas, Douglas Reeser
Take a look at three popular movements that have begun to find a firmer footing with the shifting calendar: Occupy, the Zapatistas, and Idle No More.
Recycled Minds, 2 January 2013

Writing against identity politics: An essay on gender, race, and bureaucratic pain, Smadar Lavie
Equating bureaucratic entanglements with pain–or what, arguably, can be seen as torture–might seem strange. But for single Mizrahi welfare mothers in Israel, somatization of bureaucratic logic as physical pain precludes the agency of identity politics. This essay elaborates on Don Handelman’s scholarship on bureaucratic logic as divine cosmology and posits that Israel’s bureaucracy is based on a theological essence that amalgamates gender and race. The essay employs a world anthropologies’ theoretical toolkit to represent bureaucratic torture in multiple narrative modes, including anger, irony, and humor, as a counterexample to dominant U.S.-U.K. formulae for writing and theorizing culture.
American Ethnologist. 2012.

Authentic cool: Global hipsters and consumer culture, Paul Mullins
Anthropologists are committed to critical reflection and honesty with our subjects, but genuine understanding of people unlike ourselves always starts with empathy, curiosity, respect, and a willingness to listen. Nobody has apparently listened very closely to hipsters except Urban Outfitters.
PopAnth, 11 January 2013

Beyond Capitalism: Alternative and Non-Capitalist Political Ecologies, Jason Antrosio
Boone Shear and Brian Burke organized a special track for alternative political ecologies for 2012 Applied Anthropology, seeking to go Beyond Capitalism.
Note: This earlier post on the Society for Applied Anthropology meetings updated in light of the Beyond Capitalism issue.

Thoughts on Black Swans and Antifragility, James Holland Jones
My reading of Taleb’s critiques of prediction and risk management is that the primary problem is hubris. Is there anything fundamentally wrong with risk assessment? I am not convinced there is, and there are quite likely substantial benefits to systematic inquiry. The problem is that the risk assessment models become reified into a kind of reality. I warn students – and try to regularly remind myself – never to fall in love with one’s own model. Something that many economists and risk modelers do is start to believe that their models are something more real than heuristic.
monkey’s uncle, 26 December 2012

Sustainable Investing: TIAA-CREF Social Choice, Jason Antrosio
The idea of sustainable investing is inevitably a distorted and contradictory compromise in a mixed-up world. A one-step simple approach to sustainable investing through TIAA-CREF: Invest in CREF Social Choice as a modest tactic on environment and sustainability.

Can’t Save? Here’s Why, Helaine Olen
Cutting out that daily cappuccino will not let you retire in peace. . . . So let me suggest another financial resolution, one that will do more for our future financial outlook than simply forgoing a few consumer goods: talk about money. It’s not shameful. Pick a cause, and resolve to fight for change.

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