23 Feb 2017

Reading David Graeber: The Utopia of Rules. On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy

CARG #08 – eighth session of the Contemporary Anthropology Reading Group

For the eighth session of our reading group we are reading David Graeber’s book on the way bureaucracy rules our lives.

The Utopia of Rules

Graeber, David. 2015. The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy New York: Melville House

Description from Melville House:

Where does the desire for endless rules, regulations, and bureaucracy come from? How did we come to spend so much of our time filling out forms? And is it really a cipher for state violence?

To answer these questions, the anthropologist David Graeber — one of our most important and provocative thinkers — traces the peculiar and unexpected ways we relate to bureaucracy today, and reveals how it shapes our lives in ways we may not even notice…though he also suggests that there may be something perversely appealing—even romantic—about bureaucracy.

Leaping from the ascendance of right-wing economics to the hidden meanings behind Sherlock Holmes and Batman, The Utopia of Rules is at once a powerful work of social theory in the tradition of Foucault and Marx, and an entertaining reckoning with popular culture that calls to mind Slavoj Zizek at his most accessible.

An essential book for our times, The Utopia of Rules is sure to start a million conversations about the institutions that rule over us — and the better, freer world we should, perhaps, begin to imagine for ourselves.

Contact:
Highland Asia Research Group
LMU, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oettingenstr. 67
80538 Munich, Germany

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