cover of book and Graeber portrait - white man

September 15th – Debt by David Graeber

Last September 2nd, David Graeber died unexpectedly, aged 59. He was an influential American anthropologist and anarchist activist, known particularly for his role in the Occupy movement and his book, Debt: The First 5,000 Years. We felt it would be appropriate to mark his death – and his life and work – with an anniversary event.

We will discuss Graeber’s book “Debt” on Wednesday September 15th. This is an online event, which will be held via videocall. Anyone is welcome, but we keep link details private – please contact us for the Zoom details.

Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend. You are welcome to attend to listen to the discussion even if you do not have time to engage with any of the content. We will focus our discussion on Chapter 7: Honour and Degradation, and there is also a 90 minute video recording below for those who have limited time but would like to engage with the book. Below are links to buy the book at a reduced price, access a full pdf for free, download the chapter we will focus our discussion on, or watch the video of Graeber discussing the book. Please contact us about any accessibility requirements.

You can buy a copy of Debt by David Graeber from the local Yellow Lighted Bookshop and get a 10% discount on the £17.99 standard price by entering “StroudRadical” to the “Coupon Code” box at the checkout. You can then either collect from Nailsworth, Tetbury or Chalford shops, or have the book(s) delivered by RoyalMail or the Bike Drop (delivery charges may apply).

Debt: The First 5,000 Years was published in 2011. Graeber maps out the history of debt from ancient civilisations to current times, suggesting it has been one of the great catalysts for social and political strife throughout. Social institutions such as barter, marriage, friendship, slavery, law, religion, war and government are explored through the lens of Debt. The book draws on the history and anthropology of a number of civilizations, large and small, from the first known records of debt from Sumer in 3500 BC until the present.

The book is part of a series on how modern inequality was built which will also include The Divide by Jason Hickle on October 20th (click the link for 10% off the £9.99 standard price via Yellow Lighted Bookshop), and How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney on November 17th (again, using the “StroudRadical” Coupon Code will get you 10% off the £16.99 standard price). Further details on these events will be added to the website ASAP.

You can access a full pdf of the book ‘Debt’ via, but it is a long book. We will focus our discussion on Chapter 7: Honour and Degradation – in order to make it easier for people with limited time to participate (please read more of the book if you are able!

Below is a video recording of David Graeber in conversation with Jonathan Conning, Associate Professor of Economics at Hunter College at the Graduate Center, CUNY

David Graeber is an anthropologist and activist based in New York, and London, where he holds the position of Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of six books, including Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value, Lost People: Magic and History in Central Madagascar, Direct Action: An Ethnography, and most recently, Debt: The First Five Thousand Years, alongside popular and political writings that have appeared in venues like Harpers, The Baffler, and The Nation. He is currently working on two books: one on bureaucracy, the other about his involvement in the formation of Occupy Wall Street.

Jonathan Conning joined the economics department in the fall of 2002. His research and teaching interests include Development Economics, applied microeconomic theory and financial contracting, as well as trade and modern political economy. His research has explored the structure and operation of rural financial markets, microfinance and social investment, as well as topics in agrarian production organization, property rights, economic history, and impact evaluation.

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