ICSR/SVHE

The Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility is teaming up with the Society for Values in Higher Education to sponsor a Spring 2013 Faculty Reading Group on

David.Graeber-Debt.the.first

Sessions: Tuesdays at 4 pm on the following dates

  • February 12: pp. 1-164
  • March 19
  • April 16

Sign-up & free book!

We ask that you only sign up for the group if you are sure that you can attend at least two of the three meetings. Please note that the book is approximately 400 pages (without notes), so we will be ordering in early January to make sure members of the group have ample time to begin reading it. For February 12 we will discuss pp. 1-164. To join the group, simply email Eric Bain-Selbo. We will purchase the book for you.

Book description from Amazon.com

Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom: he shows that before there was money, there was debt. For more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.

Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it.

Note on the author from Amazon.com

David Graeber teaches anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has written for Harper’s, The Nation, Mute, and The New Left Review. In 2006, he delivered the Malinowski Memorial Lecture at the London School of Economics, an annual  talk that honors “outstanding anthropologists who have fundamentally shaped the study of culture.” One of the original organizers of Occupy Wall Street, Graeber has been called an “anti-leader of the movement” by Bloomberg Businessweek. The Atlantic wrote that he “has come to represent the Occupy Wall Street message…expressing the group’s theory, and its founding principles, in a way that truly elucidated some of the things people have questioned about it.”

(Source: Email from Eric Bain-Selbo, Head, Dept. of Philosophy and Religion, Co-director, ICSR & Director, SVHE, Dec 17, 2012)

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