67 pages 2 hours read

David Graeber, David Wengrow

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2021

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Key Figures

David Graeber

Graeber, a respected anthropologist, was also a committed social activist, participating in such movements as the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011. He is credited for having coined the movement’s rallying phrase, “We are the 99%.” Throughout his career at Yale and later at the London School of Economics, Graeber was concerned with social inequality and its effects on individuals as well as political systems. His best-known works are Debt: The First 5,000 Years, published in 2011 which explores how debt functions within social institutions throughout history and Bullshit Jobs: A Theory, published in 2015. This latter work posits that there has been an increasing abundance of “paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence.”

His scholarship has consistently been critical of institutions and uneven structures of political power. He is considered one of the most prominent left-leaning anthropologists in the field, with work that questions—as it does quite deeply and widely in The Dawn of Everything—the underlying assumptions and prevailing ideas of academic anthropology. An early work, Fragments of an Anarchist Archeology, from 2004, reveals these scholarly preoccupations and contrarian tendencies.