Anthropology and Anarchism

Jonathan Marshall (University of Technology, Sydney)
Ligertwood 216 Sarawak Room
Start time:
14 December, 2017 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Both Anthropology and Anarchism suggest the State is a disruptive process. This panel aims to explore the exigencies of resistance to, or avoidance of, the State throughout the world whether local, political, economic or cultural. Is such resistance Utopian, practical or delusional?

Long abstract:

Anthropology has long studied 'stateless societies' and anarchists from Kropotkin onwards have used Anthropological evidence to suggest that the State is not a 'natural', but a disruptive, stumbling and repressive process, which can be avoided. Later Anthropologists such as Clastres and Scott have suggested that many societies, or parts of societies, organize themselves to resist or avoid the State and actively prevent the basis of its formation or power. The ontological status of the State may also be fraught. Radcliffe-Brown wrote: "The State... does not exist in the phenomenal world, it is a fiction of the philosophers. What does exist is an organization i.e. a collection of individual human beings connected by a complex system of relations… There is no such thing as the power of the State " Given this, what are the bases for the appearance of State power? Do they exist outside of the State, in say corporations? Are States fictions, rhetorics, imaginings, networks or inertias? What is the basis for State knowledge - is it, as Graeber suggests, influenced by the power/ignorance nexus, as much as the power/knowledge nexus, and thus prone to stupidity and distortion? How does the State undermine its own authority and how does this mismatch between authority and knowledge work out? How do people and societies resist or avoid the State, whether this is local, political economic or cultural? Is such resistance Utopian, practical or delusional? Papers are invited from any field in which these questions sound relevant.