David Graeber David Wengrow Popular Books

David Graeber David Wengrow Biography & Facts

David Rolfe Graeber (; February 12, 1961 – September 2, 2020) was an American anthropologist and anarchist activist. His influential work in economic anthropology, particularly his books Debt: The First 5,000 Years (2011), Bullshit Jobs (2018), and The Dawn of Everything (2021), and his leading role in the Occupy movement, earned him recognition as one of the foremost anthropologists and left-wing thinkers of his time.Born in New York to a working-class Jewish family, Graeber studied at Purchase College and the University of Chicago, where he conducted ethnographic research in Madagascar under Marshall Sahlins and obtained his doctorate in 1996. He was an assistant professor at Yale University from 1998 to 2005, when the university controversially decided not to renew his contract before he was eligible for tenure. Unable to secure another position in the United States, he entered an "academic exile" in England, where he was a lecturer and reader at Goldsmiths' College from 2008 to 2013, and a professor at the London School of Economics from 2013. In his early scholarship, Graeber specialized in theories of value (Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value, 2002), social hierarchy and political power (Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, 2004, Possibilities, 2007, On Kings, 2017), and the ethnography of Madagascar (Lost People, 2007). In the 2010s he turned to historical anthropology, producing his best-known book, Debt: The First 5000 Years (2011), an exploration of the historical relationship between debt and social institutions, as well as a series of essays on the origins of social inequality in prehistory. In parallel, he developed critiques of bureaucracy and managerialism in contemporary capitalism, published in The Utopia of Rules (2015) and Bullshit Jobs (2018). He coined the concept of bullshit jobs in a 2013 essay that explored the proliferation of "paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence".Although exposed to radical left politics from a young age, Graeber's direct involvement in activism began with the global justice movement of the 1990s. He attended protests against the 3rd Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001 and the World Economic Forum in New York in 2002, and later wrote an ethnography of the movement, Direct Action (2009). In 2011, he became well known as one of the leading figures of Occupy Wall Street and is credited with coining the slogan "We are the 99%". His later activism included interventions in support of the Rojava revolution in Syria, the British Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn and Extinction Rebellion. David Graeber died unexpectedly in September 2020, while on vacation in Venice. His last book, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, co-written with archaeologist David Wengrow, was published posthumously in 2021. Early life and education Graeber's parents, who were in their forties when Graeber was born, were self-taught working-class Jewish intellectuals in New York. Graeber's mother, Ruth Rubinstein, had been a garment worker, and played the lead role in the 1930s musical comedy revue Pins & Needles, staged by the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Graeber's father, Kenneth, was affiliated with the Young Communist League in college, participated in the Spanish Revolution in Barcelona and fought in the Spanish Civil War. He later worked as a plate stripper on offset presses. Graeber grew up in Penn South, a union-sponsored housing cooperative in Chelsea, Manhattan, described by Business Week magazine as "suffused with radical politics."Graeber had his first experience of political activism at the age of seven, when he attended peace marches in New York's Central Park and Fire Island. He was an anarchist from the age of 16, according to an interview he gave to The Village Voice in 2005.Graeber graduated from Phillips Academy Andover in 1978 and received his B.A. from the State University of New York at Purchase in 1984. He received his master's degree and doctorate at the University of Chicago, where he won a Fulbright fellowship to conduct 20 months of ethnographic field research in Betafo, Madagascar, beginning in 1989. His resulting Ph.D. thesis on magic, slavery, and politics was supervised by Marshall Sahlins and entitled The Disastrous Ordeal of 1987: Memory and Violence in Rural Madagascar. Academic career Yale University (1998–2005) In 1998, two years after completing his PhD, Graeber became assistant professor at Yale University, then associate professor. In May 2005, the Yale anthropology department decided not to renew Graeber's contract, preventing consideration for academic tenure, which was scheduled for 2008. Pointing to Graeber's anthropological scholarship, his supporters (including fellow anthropologists, former students and activists) said the decision was politically motivated. More than 4,500 people signed petitions supporting him, and anthropologists such as Marshall Sahlins, Laura Nader, Michael Taussig, and Maurice Bloch called on Yale to reverse its decision. Bloch, who had been a professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics and the Collège de France, and a writer on Madagascar, praised Graeber in a letter to the university.The Yale administration argued that Graeber's dismissal was in keeping with Yale's policy of granting tenure to few junior faculty. Graeber suggested that Yale's decision might have been influenced by his support of a student of his who was targeted for expulsion because of her membership in GESO, Yale's graduate student union.In December 2005, Graeber agreed to leave Yale after a one-year paid sabbatical. That spring he taught two final classes: "Introduction to Cultural Anthropology" (attended by more than 200 students) and a seminar, "Direct Action and Radical Social Theory". "Academic exile" and London (2005–2020) On May 25, 2006, Graeber was invited to give the Malinowski Lecture at the London School of Economics. Each year, the LSE anthropology department asks an anthropologist at a relatively early stage of their career to give the Malinowski Lecture, and only invites those considered to have made significant contributions to anthropological theory. Graeber's address was called "Beyond Power/Knowledge: an exploration of the relation of power, ignorance and stupidity". It was later edited into an essay, "Dead zones of the imagination: On violence, bureaucracy and interpretive labor". The same year, Graeber was asked to present the keynote address in the 100th anniversary Diamond Jubilee meetings of the Association of Social Anthropologists. In April 2011, he presented the anthropology department's annual Distinguished Lecture at Berkeley, and in May 2012 he delivered the second annual Marilyn Strathern Lecture at Cambridge (the first was delivered by Strathern).After his dismissal from Yale, Graeber was unable to secure another position at an.... 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