Direct Action: An Ethnography

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AK Press, 2009 - Social Science - 568 pages
16 Reviews

Anthropologist David Graeber undertakes the first detailed ethnographic study of the global justice movement. 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 in Quebec City. Written in a clear, accessible style (with a minimum of academic jargon), this study brings readers behind the scenes of a movement that has changed the terms of debate about world power relations. From informal conversations in coffee shops to large "spokescouncil" planning meetings and tear gas-drenched street actions, Graeber paints a vivid and fascinating picture.

Along the way, he addresses matters of deep interest to anthropologists: meeting structure and process, language, symbolism and representation, the specific rituals of activist culture, and much more. Starting from the assumption that, when dealing with possibilities of global transformation and emerging political forms, a disinterested, "objective" perspective is impossible, Graeber writes as both scholar and activist. At the same time, his experiment in the application of ethnographic methods to important ongoing political events is a serious and unique contribution to the field of anthropology, as well as an inquiry into anthropology's political implications.

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Review: Direct Action: An Ethnography

User Review  - Rob - Goodreads

(8/10) In Direct Action, David Graeber sets out on what is ostensibly an anthropological ethnography of anarchist politics and the anti-globalization movement. As an active participant in these ... Read full review

Review: Direct Action: An Ethnography

User Review  - Marshall Scott - Goodreads

The first part of the book tells the story of the action against the FTAA summit in Quebec. Told mostly through field notes that David took as he participated. Then there is a good amount of theory that will probably resonate with most (anarchist) activists. Read full review

About the author (2009)

David Graeber is an anthropologist and activist who currently teaches at the University of London and has been active in direct-action groups, including the Direct Action Network, People's Global Action, and Anti-Capitalist Convergence. He is the author of Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value, and Lost People: Magic and the Legacy of Slavery in Madagascar.

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