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Intellectuals and (Counter-) Politics: Essays in Historical Realism

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Volume 12


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Intellectuals and (Counter-) Politics

Essays in Historical Realism

Gavin Smith

254 pages, 1 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-300-0 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (May 2014)

ISBN  978-1-78533-347-7 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (October 2016)

eISBN 978-1-78238-301-7 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“In this collection of intricately linked chapters, Gavin Smith continues his incisive efforts to open the boundaries between oppositions that have bedeviled anthropology almost since it began. Throughout, he refines conventional polarities the better to reveal their common origins in social being: among them are micro- and macroscales of analysis, the material production of experience and discourse, and structuralist detachment and political engagement.” · American Ethnologist

“In Intellectuals and (Counter-) Politics, Gavin Smith reaffirms his stature as one of the most important anthropologists writing today. By way of a tightly woven set of arguments, he simultaneously challenges and inspires us to expand our historical, geographical, and theoretical imaginations to meet the pressing interpretive and political challenges of the global present. The publication of Intellectuals and (Counter-) Politics will constitute a major event within anthropological circles and well beyond.· August Carbonella, Memorial University of Newfoundland

“A cutting edge discussion between anthropology and the disciplines of history and geography, all through the lens of the politics of intellectual work. A paradigm of sensitive ethnographic work fused with broadly social/political theory, this book will pull in a lot of people looking to find their way out of a certain rabbit hole of recent academia.” · Neil Smith, Graduate Center, City University of New York.


Contemporary forms of capitalism and the state require close analytic attention to reveal the conditions of possibility for effective counter-politics. On the other hand the practice of collective politics needs to be studied through historical ethnography if we are to understand what might make people’s actions effective. This book suggests a research agenda designed to maximize the political leverage of ordinary people faced with ever more remote states and technologies that make capitalism increasingly rapacious. Gavin Smith opens and closes this series of interlinked essays by proposing a concise framework for untangling what he calls “the society of capital” and subsequently a potentially controversial way of seeing its contemporary features. This book tackles the political conundrums of our times and asks what roles intellectuals might play therein.

Gavin Smith is the author of Livelihood and Resistance: Peasants and the Politics of Land in Peru (1989); Confronting the Present: Towards a Politically Engaged Anthropology (1999); and, with Susana Narotzky, Immediate Struggles: People, Power and Place in Rural Spain (2006). He is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto.

Subject: Anthropology (General)Political and Economic Anthropology
Area: Latin America and the CaribbeanSouthern Europe


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