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Society Against the State: Essays in Political Anthropology

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  296 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Can there be a society that is not divided into oppressors and oppressed, or that refuses coercive state apparatuses? In this landmark text in anthropology and political science, Pierre Clastres offers examples of South American Indian groups that, though without hierarchical leadership, were both affluent and complex. In so doing, he refutes the usual negative definition ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 4th 1989 by Zone Books (first published 1974)
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Damla Tosmak
Nov 05, 2016 Damla Tosmak rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sosyoloji
Antropolojiye olan ilginizin yanında devlet haricinde alternatif var mı sorusu için mutlaka okunmalı.
Oct 18, 2012 Demelza rated it really liked it
Is Clastres the red-headed step-child of anthropology? I've got two anthro degrees, and had to come to him via Tiqqun. While I've been forced to read a good chunk of the French anthro canon, nary a word of Clastres. I don't think it's quite a conspiracy, but I question this strange "hiding" of anthro texts that hint at anarchism (like Clastres, I also had to read Graeber on my own).

Clastres'anthropology is SO GOOD, but can still be critiqued. At times I felt like he was homogenizing, what he ca
Dec 29, 2014 Umut rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bu kitabın ezberbozan bir yanı vardı. En azından benim için. Toplum olarak kendimizi aradığımız [yanardöner gibi bir devir batılılaşıp bir devir doğululaşarak] bir dönemde, örnek aldığımız dayanaklarımızı sorgulatan bir kitap oldu. Batı benmerkezciliğine net bir eleştiri bu. Devlete dair daha çok soru sorduracak bir kitap.

aklıma gelen 3 alıcı grubuna kişisel notum:

- devleti, bir de devletsiz toplumlarla karşılaştırma yaparak anlayayım diyenlerin okuması gerekli. [Uzmanı değilim, nacizane görüşüm
Aug 23, 2009 blakeR rated it liked it
Shelves: anth-sosh
Having read Clastres later Archeology of Violence (you can see my review here), I was prepared to be blown away by this one (after all, the production/jacket is much higher end stuff, which means it's better, right?).

But I was instead disappointed. He says essentially similar things, but in more theoretical ways than he does in the other book. This made it harder for me to stay interested. Additionally, there were a couple of spots where he seemed to romanticize the indigenous people, giving th
Jan 30, 2017 Cărăşălu rated it really liked it
'Society against the State' is the name of the last essay, which I head read before, and the reason why I decided to read the whole book. The topic of each essay is different, but the line connecting them would be 'power' - what is power in South American autochtonous societies, what is it source, its place, its limites, who wields, etc. But more often than not, this addressed indirectly, by tackling seemingly unrelated topics like the myth of the jaguar, the singing of warriors, the pre-Columbi ...more
Sarah Price
Sep 21, 2012 Sarah Price rated it really liked it
I wouldn't have gotten as much out of it if I didn't have a professor and students helping to expand on the ideas in this book...but I did and so I enjoyed it. While I don't agree with most things written in this book, I like ideas that challenge my own because it allows me to look at them from all sides and I am better able to explain (to myself and others) why I feel the way I do about culture.
Oct 13, 2009 Nina rated it liked it
Clastres main thesis through this book is that stateless societies are not under-developed, but a result of conscious and active organization against statist structures.

Even though some of his ideas are a bit dated by now and come across as typical arrogancy of a western scholar, Clastres does deserve credit for being one the first western intellectuals to seriously point out that maybe people living in these societies actually choose their lives.
Lee Foust
Oct 09, 2013 Lee Foust rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bryn Hammond
Jan 10, 2012 Bryn Hammond rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-history
I came to this through Christopher Boehm, Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior. For early human politics, I'd say, go there, which builds on Clastres, and had told me Clastres' main message, about how early-style societies defend themselves against that perceived evil power - how they prevent power. Boehm dives into primate behaviour too to link up with our species (he's a primatologist turned anthropologist).

Still, I'm glad I read this. It's a set of essays. Once his
Jan 03, 2011 Joe rated it it was amazing

I have read Society against the State and it is quite good; I really need to read more books by this author! In this book Clastres argues that the first States were not products of tribal 'bigmen' or 'chiefs' but, rather, a product of the tribal Shamans. Why? The reasoning is that only the Shaman had, in these 'primitive' societies, a monoply on fear - and thus power. In these pre-civilized societies the chiefs had no army or police to enforce their whims, but the shaman had superstition
Pedro Rodrigues
Jun 21, 2016 Pedro Rodrigues rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Um livro muito iluminante sobre o tema. Porém, a crítica feita à concepção de sociedade primitiva no início é logo contradita de forma profunda.
O autor logo de início nos afirma que classificar uma sociedade como não-primitiva devido à presença do Estado é uma concepção pobre, uma fixação etnocêntrica. Mas ele vai tendendo ao contrário ao longo do texto. Ele busca mostrar que a economia de subsistência que era a característica definidora da sociedade primitiva. Mas logo depois afirma que a únic
Abdou Edge
Jul 08, 2015 Abdou Edge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pierre Clastres, dans ses textes anthropologique a balayé pas mal d'idées reçues (fausses dans la plus part), les clichés, dont on nous parle durant des années, sont décortiqués dans une étude approfondie, et ça nous apprend beaucoup sur les sociétés d’Amérique du sud, les tribus indiennes, leur mode de vie, leur vie au quotidien et le plus impressionnant, vivre en harmonie au sein de la société (la tribu) sans pouvoir, sans roi, sans classes.
sa façon d'élaborer les choses est différente des au
Jérémi Doyon
Aug 22, 2015 Jérémi Doyon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anthropologie
Malgré le fait que certaine théories puissent paraître naïves ou même totalement invalidées par nos anthropologues modernes, ou parfois une certaine idéalisation irritante, le livre n'en est pas moins remarquable et brillant. Il est d'autant plus d'actualité pour penser un contre-pouvoir révolutionnaire en acte.

Il demande toutefois un prolongement et des rectifications(Pour une anthropologie anarchiste de David Graeber en serait l'exemple idéal).
Mirza  Sultan-Galiev
Nov 13, 2010 Mirza Sultan-Galiev rated it liked it
Shelves: anarchism
Some very interesting examination of non-state societies conscious
maintenance of a diffuse distribution of power, ( inscription of law on the body etc).
However patriarchal relations are hardly interrogated at all, and the sketchy speculative vagueness of the whole thing is a bit tiresome.
Jan 03, 2015 Bertrand rated it really liked it
Plus complet qu'Archéologie de la Violence, cet ouvrage anthropologique de Pierre Clastres est en tout point de vue intéressant et instructif pour quiconque s'intéresse aux sociétés dites primitives du continent américain.
Apr 18, 2013 Kubilay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Politik Antropolojiye yabancı olanlar için dahi anlaması kolay, kısa ancak derin bir kitap. Beşeri bilimlerle bir şekilde hasbihal olan herkesin okuması gerekli diye düşünüyorum.
Currently re-reading this book. Beautifully written and insightful ethnography. Translated by Paul Auster (!).
May 25, 2011 Mabrouk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
كتاب يعتبر من أمهات كتب الأنثروبولوجيا السياسية وفيه وضع كلاستر تصوراته حول السياسة كما تمارسها المجتمعات البدائية
Mar 31, 2009 Klelia rated it it was amazing
exceptionally good read.
Sam Law
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Jun 30, 2012
Letícia Yoshimi
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Sep 07, 2015
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Mar 31, 2011
pedriye m.
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May 02, 2015
J Levy
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Nov 25, 2012
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Heitor Trielli
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Sep 14, 2016
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Pierre Clastres, (1934-1977), was a French anthropologist and ethnographer. He is best known for his fieldwork among the Guayaki in Paraguay and his theory on stateless societies. Some people regard him as giving scientific validity to certain anarchist perspectives.[1]

In his most famous work, Society Against the State (1974), Clastres indeed criticizes both the evolutionist notion that the state
More about Pierre Clastres...

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“La historia de los pueblos que tienen una Historia es la historia de la lucha de clases. La historia de los pueblos sin Historia es, diremos con la misma verdad, la historia de su lucha contra el Estado.” 5 likes
“It is not a scientific proposition to determine that some cultures lack political power because they show nothing similar to what is found in our culture. It is instead the sign of a certain conceptual poverty.” 4 likes
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