Revitalizing Anarchist Anthropology: Critical Anthropology, Geography, and Theory Beyond the State Form

Authors: Joshua Mullenite*, Wagner College
Topics: Cultural Geography, Geographic Theory
Keywords: anarchism, anthropology, theory
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Cleveland 2, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Anarchist anthropology has historically seen its interest wax and wane. The establishment and growth of Occupy Wall Street in the early-2010s saw a significant growth interest in the relationship between the political movement and the discipline but this has largely not been sustained. Likewise, with a few notable exceptions, engagement largely centered around anthropologies of anarchism (pre-state and stateless people’s, anarchist groups, etc.) rather than the incorporation of anarchist theory into existing anthropological analyses. In this paper, I draw on the growth of anarchist geography to argue that anthropology might benefit from a similar sustained engagement with anarchist theory. In particular, I focus on the ways in which anarchist theory has been operationalized in and blended with existing modes of geographic theory to present novel approaches to common questions in geographical scholarship. Through this critical engagement with anarchist geographical thought, I argue that anarchism offers anthropology a means for understanding the operations of power at play from, within, and beyond the state in human relations. In this way, anarchist thought complements in unique ways other recent theoretical advances in anthropology. By taking lessons from human geography, I also argue that anarchism provides fertile ground for the further collaboration between these two disciplines.

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