Book Journal 2: Anarchism and Anthropology

Paleo Retiree writes:

  • Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity, and Meaningful Work and Play” by James C. Scott. I love the work of the Yale prof James C. Scott and consider him in a class with Jane Jacobs, Colin Ward and Paul Goodman, some of my favorite thinkers. In the past Scott has written lengthy books about people trying to live outside civilization, about why top-down centralized schemes and plans so often fail, and about how people go about self-organizing their lives and their affairs. This isn’t one of those studies. Instead, it’s an accessible collection of musings on more general themes, including anarchism itself, using material from his other books as examples, and written in a way that reflects and expresses his own temperamental anarchism. It’s a fun, mind-opening and hyper-smart read, and the best Scott volume to start with if you’re curious about him. Here’s a good interview with him.
  • The Innocent Anthropologist” by Nigel Barley. A super-amusing memoir by a British anthropologist who spent a stretch with the Dowayo people of northern Cameroon. Part of what’s great about the book is that it delivers everything that the usual anthro dissertation doesn’t. It’s more like yakking over drinks with someone who just got back from Africa than snoozing through an academic presentation. And Barley is a very companionable drinking partner — frank about the superstitiousness of the Dowayo and the primitive conditions they live in without ever condescending to them. The other great thing about the book is the writing. What a performance. In terms of delivering sheer readerly delight, “The Innocent Anthropologist” struck me as being in a class with the fiction of P.G. Wodehouse — it’s that witty and charming. The book is such a giddy treat that the Question Lady (who read the book alongside me) found it difficult to get through more than 10 pages at a sitting. “It’s like eating one dessert after another,” she explained. Fun to learn that in recent years Nigel Barley has turned to writing fiction.

About Paleo Retiree

Onetime media flunky and movie buff and very glad to have left that mess behind. Formerly Michael Blowhard of the cultureblog Now a rootless parasite and bon vivant on a quest to find the perfectly-crafted artisanal cocktail.
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2 Responses to Book Journal 2: Anarchism and Anthropology

  1. Pingback: The Best of UR 2014 | Uncouth Reflections

  2. Pingback: “Wild France” | Uncouth Reflections

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