John McCreery posted a blog here: What do we make of Occupy Wall Street? So far no takers. I have posted a large number of links on the protest movement and the economic crisis over on my Facebook page where the turnover of comments and sharing has been high. The best-known anthropology blogs are humming with personal statements, analysis and links to all and sundry. David Graeber has been catapulted to world fame by the coincidence of his participation in OWS and publicity for his new book, Debt: The First 5,000 Years which offers a compelling anthropological account of the economic crisis and what to do about it.
And what do we have here at the OAC, a community of over 5,000 souls with a common interest in anthropology and worldwide reach? Nothing. I have watched with growing dismay how a culture of apathy has taken root here. In fact I have often considered abandoning the OAC, since so few of the members give to its shared life and as a result the life is slowly expiring from it. New members join with enthusiasm and no doubt they can find something to read in our archives. But these archives are hardly being replenished. We have so many Groups, but most of them ceased to be active long ago. I can't remember when we last had a lively conversation here.
So I asked myself once more, should I throw in the towel? One person can't keep a show like this on the road, however obstinate or committed they may be. Even the group of Administrators have withdrawn from active involvement. So why should anyone else be different? I hate to think that I have a better communal life on Facebook than here, but it is true. Anyway, I decided to have another go. If this one flops, I may as well chuck it in.
So, given that a conversation is unlikely on current precedents, what could the OAC contribute that isn't being done elsewhwere, drawing on our global membership? Surely we could provide links to the protest movement worldwide and especially to any by anthropologists or with anthropology as a theme? In the first reply to this discussion, I will provide a few such links and I hope that others will post some more. A conversation would be a miracle under present circumstances, but you never know...
The curious thing is that the best slogan to come out of this juxtaposition of economic crisis and world revolution is an anthropological one and was arrived at independently by David Graeber and myself at roughly the same time in the last decade. What we want is a human economy. Anthropology was born in world revolution and it will find itself again in this one.
Anthropology with purpose
These links are overwelmingly biased to the US, but what can our members point us to in Spain, Chile or anywhere else in any language?
Thanks for taking the time, Frank. I know that you have been trying to get something going in the Human Economy group and, apart from me sometimes, you haven't had any interaction.
Frank Broszeit said:
oh please, why always number bashing like those anonym 5000 should do something? You don't have traffic - time to change something.
We do have traffic, but it is passive, lurkers, readers or whatever. It is very hard to get people to write something in a public forum, so we need to understand better what gets them more actively involved, as they once were here, or perhaps a better question is why interest falls off.
I could add some in german but would it help? The question how does listing links help would be interesting to me too.
We have had active groups in Portuguese, German, Italian, Turkish etc, but the main page is probably always going to be in English. This is one of the main contradictions of the OAC and a major explanation for low participation as writers.
There's nothing to expect from the academy. If you're not part of it, its useless to talk about economic anthropology. The difference one could make is doing economy/business by yourself. For instance i'm just asking myself how one can build a cooperative bank and or microcredits which fit to small entrepreneurs because central europe has the best preconditions for such a system, according to the microcredit section in The Human Economy. And how is it possible to keep it democratic and keep it running without bankruptcy?
I have always kept one foot in the academy and one foot out. I think the best intellectual work is motivated in part by public engagement, but also universities do provide an opportunity to research and write, which politics doesn't. Running a part-time business is a great way to learn economics, but you also need the time for deep reflection and comparison. I believe that academic culture is a dead hand on an organization like this. Non-academics feel estranged from the prevailing tone and the academics always feel they have more important things to do with their time. Hybridity works, but stronger institutions can kill it off.
By the way Frank...
John, you have brought up this point about the Groups before. But maybe its time has now come. I too see newcomers joining and making some bright introductory comment into a void. Not good. But one issue is whether reciprocity is a workable paradigm in a situation of information abundance. The fact is that some people do get a lot from exploring the archives, so we shouldn't make it too difficult for them. I want people to have access to what I have put out there, since there is some good stuff...
Ryan, lots of good stuff that I'll come back to. Thanks also for defending economic anthropology...
"I want people to have access to what I have put out there, since there is some good stuff..."
How about a Hall of Fame? I've noticed that several of the individual bloggers whose blogs I read now have a "Most popular posts" list to the right of their current post. It shouldn't be too hard to rank existing threads by the number of comments they've attracted. Or, a bit more arbitrary, "OAC Favorites," selected by those administering the sight. Like the iTunes or App store recommendations? The old, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar" idea.