Séminaire EHESS – Keith Hart “Tha anthropology of unequal society and the struggle for economic democracy” – ANNULÉ

Séance annulée

Jeudi 20 Juin 2013
de 15h00 à 17h00 
salle 11 , 105 Boulevard raspail 75006 PARIS 

Keith HART (University of Pretoria & London School of Economics)

The anthropology of unequal society and the struggle for economic democracy

Discutant : Riccardo CIAVOLELLA

Séminaire du LAIOS 2012-2013 “Anthropologie Politique : Globalisation, Race, Etat”

Véronique BENEÏ
Jean-Bernard OUEDRAOGO

“This is an early draft of an essay for Annual Reviews of Anthropology (2014). Modern anthropology was born to serve the coming democratic revolution against the Old Regime. A government by the people for the people should be based on what they have in common, their “human nature” or “natural rights”. The great Victorian synthesizers, such as Morgan, Tylor and Frazer, stood on the shoulders of predecessors motivated by an urgent desire to make world society less unequal. Jean-Jacques Rousseau deserves to be seen as the source for an anthropology that combines the critique of unequal society with a revolutionary politics of democratic emancipation. The most impressive work coming out of the post-war American school was Eric Wolf’s Europe and the People without History (1982). But Claude Lévi-Strauss tried to redo Morgan in a single book, The Elementary Structures of Kinship(1949). Jack Goody has also engaged with world historyproducing a score of books investigating why Sub-Saharan Africa differs so strikingly from the pre-industrial societies of Europe and Asia, with a later focus on refuting the West’s claim to being exceptional, especially when compared with Asia. 

 The bulk of the essay will consider how anthropologists today have responded to the current world crisis, in the process renewing the political struggle against unequal society and for economic democracy. Chief among them is David Graeber for his book, Debt: The first 5,000 years (2011) and now The Democracy Project (2013). My own work, from The Memory Bank (2000) to The Human Economy (2010), is in dialogue with his and has recently taken a political turn in revisiting the twentieth-century contrast between “reform” and “revolution”: hence my interest in charting a fresh course through this essay. At stake is the formation of world society on the ruins of national capitalism, a process sometimes known as “alter-globalization” or as the struggle for power between national governments and transnational corporations (Blim 2005). The greatest contradiction in contemporary capitalism is over intellectual property rights which takes the particular form of struggles for a digital commons. Gabriella Coleman leads the way here with Encoding Freedom (2013) and her ethnography of Anonymous. 

The research program that I co-direct at the University of Pretoria (http://web.up.ac.za/humaneconomy) exposes me to world society from the perspective of the global South and Africa in particular. Young political anthropologists are breaking new ground in Southern Europe and elsewhere around the world. I hope to get more pointers to relevant reading on recent directions in anthropological research from this seminar. I will speak in English, but read and understand French.”

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