Reading Group on Ayça Çubukçu’s David Graeber’s Anthropology of Human Possibilities

23 February, 2023 20:00 (London time)

Ayça Çubukçu, who was a dear friend of David Graeber, uploaded on Academia the draft of a caring and insightful paper about him, partially published as a foreword to the German edition of Fragments.

David Graeber’s Anthropology of Human Possibilities


00:36:59 Michael Reinsborough: Maybe we can think of myth as inevitable- but some myths allow different human possibilities

00:37:26 Tom Schatteman: Reacted to “Maybe we can think o…” with 👍

00:37:30 Michael Reinsborough: who’s myths are we all made to collectively have?

00:41:49 Simona Ferlini: The passage I’m referring to

>**how can we know** what freedoms our ancestors simply assumed? In posing this question, I am not intimating that “our ancestors” are essentially unknowable because they are too alien (ontologically different, one might say), but that even if archaeology and anthropology, and the humanities and the social sciences more broadly, may have as their purpose the reshaping of our “conceptions of who we are and what we might yet become” (525), **it remains unclear whether they have the capacity to do that without deploying some kind of “myth”—including new myths about “what being sapiens really means”** (118).

Nevertheless, to the extent that **myths** are necessary to give shared—that is, social—meaning to human life, the ones Graeber and Wengrow devise with reference to new archaeological and anthropological findings may prove more inspiring ones to “believe” than teleological theories of social evolution which uphold current social and political arrangements as irrefutable “progress.

00:46:04Benana Bush: I’ve just been reading Dougald Hines’ At Work in the Ruins and this conversation already reminds me of his story about science and its limits in asking big questions. Maybe I think of science being part of a modern myth which gets us stuck because it pretends to be the last word.

00:46:29 Mark Fuller: @Christian: what if we revisit our newly created myth on an regular basis, reading it as a ‘constitution’, for example. That might keep it from becoming rigid?

00:47:14 Christian Walter: @mark: sounds a bit like a talmudic practice?

00:47:38 Mark Fuller: keeping it alive, yes

00:48:00 david campbell: how do I put up the Hand?

00:48:08 monika hardy: (to me) keeping it alive is an everyday (at least) phenom.. rev of everyday life ness

00:48:48 Christian Walter: click on reactions and pick raise hand

00:48:48 Simona Ferlini: Replying to “how do I put up the …”

At the bottom of the screen, “reactions”

00:49:13 david campbell: thank you

00:49:18 Ellen Judd: For putting up your hand, use Reactions at the bottom of the screen

00:50:40 monika hardy: love this from acya: ‘that’s my realization.. i think david has always been studying human possibilities.. that’s the way i bring the two books together.. that’s my summary of greatest task of his scholarship’

00:50:48 Christian Walter: @marc: not being a huge expert on the current state of talmudic practice it seems to me that it does not stop people from getting stuck, i guess you Need something more

00:50:52 monika hardy: *ayca

00:55:44 Mark Fuller: @christian — you’re right. I just was reminded of the supreme court justice who may be an originalist

00:58:56 Tom Schatteman: what does it mean: “no one really takes on their full authority until they are dead”? (I still have to read Fragments)

01:01:00 Anti Alles: “In a world without capitalism, in which all the present institutions of power had been abolished and we were hard at work healing the planet and ourselves from generations of colonialism and patriarchy, the scientific method would be a limited but valid way of producing knowledge. Today it is also valid, and in an age of COVID and climate deniers it is truly important to be scientifically literate. But its actual practice is entirely tied up with the forces waging war against us.” ~ Peter Gelderloos []

01:02:31 monika hardy: Tom Schatteman  – reference to people not being taken seriously till after they die

01:02:50 Tom Schatteman: Reacted to “Tom Schatteman  – re…” with 👍

01:05:24 Benana Bush: Dougald Hine emphasises that we ask too much of science. maybe scientists are burdened by a myth which projects the notion that it speaks absolute truth

01:06:15 Michael Reinsborough: It has caused a rucus and that is why so many people from the ‘scientific’ anthropological establishment questioned his method- particularly bullshit jobs

01:06:39 Benana Bush: Reacted to ““In a world witho…” with 👍

01:08:28 Shambhavi: I wanted to say that science doesn’t disallow anything sociologically. It is not within the purview of science to direct the possibilities and characteristics of human interactions between themselves or the world around. As the Dawn of Everything underlines- it is the capacity for us to make that choice that characterizes our agency, individually and collectively. That is what the anarchist freedom aka ruckus is about to me.

01:09:12 Anti Alles: Reacted to “I wanted to say that…” with 👍

01:09:24 Tom Schatteman: Reacted to “I wanted to say that…” with 👍

01:14:17 Shambhavi:

01:14:31 Shambhavi:

01:16:07 Michael Reinsborough: compare/contrast the word identity and possibility.  Do they collide in ways that limit what possibilities are available to humans

01:18:33 Tom Schatteman: Reacted to “….” with 👍

01:19:30 david campbell: good one Lisa

01:20:31 Tom Schatteman: Thank you, Ayca, and all the others. 

I enjoyed it immensely!

01:20:32 Quinn Costello (he/him): Thank you for this discussion!!

01:20:40 Shambhavi: Thank you everyone!

01:20:42 Aysegül Sah Bozdogan Iles: Tesekkürler! Thank you!

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