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David Graeber and the Pirate Enlightenment with Chris Haughton and Nika Dubrovsky

Friday October 13th
Doors & drinks 6.30pm; Talk starts 7pm

Unfortunately James Schneider, who was originally scheduled to speak at this event, is now having to travel for work and sends his apologies.

In the first of our series exploring the work of the late anthropologist David Graeber, we’ll be looking at his final posthumous book, "Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia".

Pirates have long lived in the realm of romance and fantasy, symbolising risk, lawlessness, and radical visions of freedom. But at the root of this mythology is a rich history of pirate societies—vibrant, imaginative experiments in self-governance and alternative social formations at the edges of the European empire.

In graduate school, David Graeber conducted ethnographic field research in Madagascar for his doctoral thesis on the island’s politics and history of slavery and magic. During this time, he encountered the Zana-Malata, an ethnic group of mixed descendants of the many pirates who settled on the island at the beginning of the eighteenth century.

"Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia", his final posthumous book, is the outgrowth of this early research and the culmination of ideas that he developed in his classic, bestselling works Debt and The Dawn of Everything (written with the archaeologist David Wengrow). In this lively, incisive exploration, Graeber considers how the protodemocratic, even libertarian practices of the Zana-Malata came to shape the Enlightenment project defined for too long as distinctly European.

He illuminates the non-European origins of what we consider to be “Western” thought and endeavors to recover forgotten forms of social and political order that gesture toward new, hopeful possibilities for the future.

Chris Haughton, author and illustrator, and Nika Dubrovsky, artist, David Graeber’s widow and the founding director of The David Graeber Institute, will introduce the ideas in the book before leading a guided discussion.

"Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia" reviewed in the London Review of Books, the Guardian and the New York Times.

Kairos, 84 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 4TG

Doors open at 6.30pm for drinks. Talks and discussion start at 7pm with a break for a one-pot vegan supper.

£8 members, £15 non-members. Includes food and drinks.