This post was originally published in 2011 on PLOS Neuroanthropology at: https://blogs.plos.org/neuroanthropology/2011/10/15/david-graeber-anthropologist-anarchist-financial-analyst/ (link is to an archived version. PLOS has recently purged their legacy weblogs from PLOS Blogs; we repost here to try to preserve this content.
Wall Street is in the grips of an ‘occupation,’ and activist and anthropologist, David Graeber, now at Goldsmiths, University of London, is in the centre of the action. Graeber has been doing a few television and radio interviews of late (check here for his interview on ABC Radio National, Australia), talking about the organization of the Wall Street occupation as well as his new book, Debt: The First 5,000 Years (Melville House).
The juxtaposition of Florida Governor Rick Scott’s recent comments about anthropology and the fact that Graeber is offering what may be among the most penetrating and accessible analyses of an important dimension of the current global debt crisis is striking. Of course, maybe clear-eyed analysis of our current economic situation, and the ability to point out that other societies do perfectly well with other sorts of economic and political systems, is precisely the sort of academic work that Gov. Rick Scott thinks universities should give up. After all, no one needs to understand why US firms are shedding jobs, or take a sober look at the current financial regime in the light of the 5,000-year history of debt. Students should just put their heads down and do the sorts of degrees that will give them technical jobs. Pay no attention to The Man behind the curtain! Continue reading