David Graeber, David Wengrow: The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity (2021)

3 December 2021, dusan

“For generations, our remote ancestors have been cast as primitive and childlike–either free and equal innocents, or thuggish and warlike. Civilization, we are told, could be achieved only by sacrificing those original freedoms or, alternatively, by taming our baser instincts. David Graeber and David Wengrow show how such theories first emerged in the eighteenth century as a conservative reaction to powerful critiques of European society posed by Indigenous observers and intellectuals. Revisiting this encounter has startling implications for how we make sense of human history today, including the origins of farming, property, cities, democracy, slavery, and civilization itself.

Drawing on research in archaeology and anthropology, the authors show how history becomes a far more interesting place once we learn to throw off our conceptual shackles and perceive what’s really there. If humans did not spend 95 percent of their evolutionary past in tiny bands of hunter-gatherers, what were they doing all that time? If agriculture, and cities, did not mean a plunge into hierarchy and domination, then what kinds of social and economic organization did they lead to? The answers are often unexpected, and suggest that the course of human history may be less set in stone, and more full of playful, hopeful possibilities, than we tend to assume.”

Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux, November 2021
ISBN 9780374157357, 0374157359
xii+692 pages

Reviews: William Deresiewicz (The Atlantic, 2021), Giulio Ongaro (Jacobin/Tribune, 2021), Jennifer Schuessler (The New York Times, 2021), Kwame Anthony Appiah (The New York Review, 2021), David Priestland (The Guardian, 2021), Emily Kern (Boston Review, 2021), Steve Rushton (Bella Caledonia, 2021), George Scialabba (New Republic, 2021), Chris Knight, Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale (Monthly Review, 2021), Tunku Varadarajan (Wall Street Journal, 2021), Erle C. Ellis (Science, 2021), Peter Isackson (Fair Observer, 2021), Noah Berlatsky (NBC News, 2021), Annalee Newitz (Washington Post, 2021), Matthew Porges (LA Review of Books, 2022), Richard Handler (TLS, 2022), Milena Bartlová (A2larm, 2022, CZ), more.

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Stefano Harney, Fred Moten: All Incomplete (2021)

25 May 2021, dusan

“Building on the ideas Harney and Moten developed in The Undercommons, All Incomplete extends the critical investigation of logistics, individuation and sovereignty. It reflects their chances to travel, listen and deepen their commitment to and claim upon partiality.

All Incomplete studies the history of a preference for the force and ground and underground of social existence. Engaging a vibrant constellation of thought that includes the work of Amilcar Cabral, Erica Edwards, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Cedric Robinson, Walter Rodney, Hortense Spillers and many others, Harney and Moten seek to share and understand that preference.

In so doing, Moten and Harney hope to have forged what Manolo Callahan, echoing Ivan lllich, calls a convivial tool that — despite the temptation to improve and demand, develop and govern, separate and grasp — helps us renew our habits of assembly.”

Foreword by Denise Ferreira da Silva
Photos and Afterword by Zun Lee
Publisher Minor Compositions, Colchester, 2021
Open access
ISBN 9781570273780, 1570273782
178 pages

Reviews: Andrew Brooks (incl. mixtape, Sydney Review of Books, 2022).

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Ariella Aïsha Azoulay: Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism (2019)

22 November 2019, dusan

“A passionately urgent call for all of us to unlearn imperialism and repair the violent world we share

In this theoretical tour-de-force, renowned scholar Ariella Aïsha Azoulay calls on us to recognize the imperial foundations of knowledge and to refuse its strictures and its many violences.

Azoulay argues that the institutions that make our world, from archives and museums to ideas of sovereignty and human rights to history itself, are all dependent on imperial modes of thinking. Imperialism has segmented populations into differentially governed groups, continually emphasized the possibility of progress while it tries to destroy what came before, and voraciously seeks out the new by sealing the past away in dusty archival boxes and the glass vitrines of museums.

By practicing what she calls potential history, Azoulay argues that we can still refuse the original imperial violence that shattered communities, lives, and worlds, from native peoples in the Americas at the moment of conquest to the Congo ruled by Belgium’s brutal King Léopold II, from dispossessed Palestinians in 1948 to displaced refugees in our own day. In Potential History, Azoulay travels alongside historical companions—an old Palestinian man who refused to leave his village in 1948, an anonymous woman in war-ravaged Berlin, looted objects and documents torn from their worlds and now housed in archives and museums—to chart the ways imperialism has sought to order time, space, and politics.

Rather than looking for a new future, Azoulay calls upon us to rewind history and unlearn our imperial rights, to continue to refuse imperial violence by making present what was invented as ‘past’ and making the repair of torn worlds the substance of politics.”

Publisher Verso Books, London, 2019
ISBN 9781788735711, 1788735714
656 pages

Interviews with author: Jadaliyya (2019), Brad Evans (LA Review of Books, 2020), Sabrina Alli (Guernica, 2020).

Reviews: Ian Wallace (Artforum, 2020), Guy Mannes-Abbott (Third Text, 2020), Louis Rogers (review31, 2020), Stephen Sheehi (Hyperallergic, 2020), Luke Urbain (InVisible Culture, 2020), Lunettes Rouges (Le Monde blog, 2020, FR, part 2), Sascha Crasnow (Field, 2022).

Roundtable: Gil Hochberg, Zoé Samudzi, Joshua Simon, Robert Yerachmiel Sniderman (Protocols, 2020).

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