Fountain, Philip M. (November 29, ). “Rev. of Direct Action: An Ethnography by David Graeber”. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology. 12 (5): – Direct Action*a thorough analysis of the ‘invisible architecture’ (p. ) of the At the start of this weighty ethnographic tome, David Graeber is in the early years. Direct action: an ethnography. Graeber, David () Direct action: an ethnography. AK Press, Oakland, California, USA ; Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Direct action: an ethnography

Anarchism is a kind of revolutionary ethics, a moral structure through which to interpret the world. True consensus building is kind of a sacred act Consists of Graeber’s personal involvement, notes, graeger, and summaries of many public meetings in preparing for gfaeber summit; analysis of the nature of non-violence and civil disobedience in America posts in light of the Zapatistas, Earth First!

I recommended it to many people ethnoggaphy it was even published!!!! The case study at the center of Direct Action is the organizing and events that led to the one of the most dramatic and militant mass protests in recent years, against the Summit of the Americas American consensus practice from Quakers, for whom that form of decision making is sacred cant find the quote.

Moreover, it was feminism that made the crucial leap beyond passive ’68 situationism, waiting for the revolutionary moment to happen, to today’s continual insurrection, the understanding that revolutionary moments much be actively created by the participants: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire.

Graeber was active more or less in three groups during the period covered in the book: Dropping the reader straight into an activist group, Graeber does a great job of immersing you in the world of the activist with large sections of straight quotation, interspersed with discussion and context. If, as he argues, the ideology of the global justice movement, is embodied in its practices, then it really doesn’t make sense to try and understand it by some generic or superficial description of its stated ideologies.


This may be one of my favorite anthropology books of the last decade.

My library Help Advanced Book Search. Perfect inbetweener when you’re reading up on more dense theory. Ethnograph what do didect think: His description and analysis of the interactions between activists, police and the media is revealing and complex while still having a strong moral urgency. The point is, the first nearly pages is an exciting first hand account of insurrectionist anarchists doing their thing. This is the basic meaning of direct action: Aug 02, Koen Crolla rated it really liked it Shelves: Jan 31, Shawn Cassiman rated it it was amazing.

As an active participant in these movements, Graeber offers a lot of insight into both the nuts-and-bolts preparation for major protests and the larger understanding of the world that shapes anarchist praxis. Despite being sympathetic to it, being an anarchist himself, he paints the North American anarchist activist community as an inward-looking circle-jerk that’s about as likely to accomplish immediate tiny goals as liberal protesters whose tactics, big talk on the part of anarchists aside, end up being almost identical in practiceand somewhat less likely than certain species of reformists.

Direct Action: An Ethnography

Books by David Graeber. Along the way, he addresses matters of deep interest to anthropologists: But more than that it’s made me want to seek out activist groups, organise, and take to the streets.

From informal conversations in coffee shops to large “spokescouncil” planning meetings and teargas-drenched street actions, Graeber paints a vivid and fascinating picture.

His detailed reconstructions of consensus-based meetings, meeting structures, street actions, mini histories, revealing conversations and police tactics are of tremendous use to activists who wish to reassess and better their democratic processes, as well as their tactics for direct actions. Nevertheless, Graeber’s main theoretical objective seems to be to reintroduce the idea of alienation, an important idea associated with Marxism that was seemingly banished from social discourse in the wake of the widely ramifying disillusionments of Also, it is very exciting.


It is a very worthwhile ethnography of 21st century anarchist movements, direct action, and consensus democracy.

I think the “Meetings” chapter would make a great booklet and I like the idea of having all these facilitators and “vibes watchers,” at least for those meetings where the process is as likely to lead to a split as it is to consensus.

These chapters are titled “Meetings,” “Actions,” and “Representation,” and are the bits where in a ‘normal’ anthropology book the writer would begin to make generalizations or maybe attack someone else’s generalizations.

Direct action: an ethnography – LSE Research Online

First of all, I read this book with theory in mind, despite the fact that Graeber sees theory in ethnography as largely irrelevant. With “Direct Action” David Graeber has written an important and timely book. This section gets a little more theoretical, but still in Graeber’s easy conversational style. A furtherance of this theme, his book is not only intellectually stimulating and compelling, but activists get a lot of practical material from it too.

There is craft, care, and handiwork evident throughout the book; Graeber really attempted to fashion an anarchist ethnography, a story and interpretation for outsiders of a culture to which he belongs, positing theory and conclusions without ever resorting to sweeping generalizations, simplification, or dismissals of diversity.

With his own experiences to highlight both.

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