Talk:David Graeber

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New Picture[edit]

I feel that this picture of Graeber might be both a stylistic improvement and, assuming that this was taken recently (I couldn't find any instances of it on the web), a more relevant one. Thoughts? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:32, 20 February 2012 (UTC)

this article is just a puff for Graeber[edit]

This entire entry sounds like a puff piece for Graeber. His position at LSE is made to sound like more than it is, and the Malinowski lecture is not the Nobel prize. I would suggest that this article be toned down overall.

I got into the database of student evaluations for the last time he taught at Yale. This was Anthro 110. Most students said the course was a gut -- one-third said the workload was "much less" than for a similar course. It had no exams or papers required! The median overall rating for the course was just "good." The real star teachers at Yale usually get a median of "excellent." So there is no objective evidence of him being a great teacer, either.

Unless Wikipedia exists to tout the unfounded claims of people who write articles about themselves, this needs to be changed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Niemand2000 (talkcontribs) 03:19, 3 April 2009 (UTC)

Yale maintains a private online database of course evaluations made available to students at the beginning of each semester. There are, in fact, numerous student reviews of some of Graeber's larger lecture courses on this database. I would suggest finding a Yale student willing to divulge the contents of that database if you want to get to the bottom of the "student reviews..." claim.

Everybody, sign your statements with ~~~~ (four tildes), so your statements are properly signed and dated! ... said: Rursus (mbork³) 21:33, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

Speculation on why Graeber's contract wasn't renewed[edit]

It seems to me that the latter third of this sentence in the article, and possibly the whole sentence, is too speculative to belong in an encyclopedia entry: Some Yale authorities may have been uneasy about Graeber's activism, including his role in protests against the World Economic Forum in 2002 and membership in the radical labor union Industrial Workers of the World; recent controversy over radical professors like Ward Churchill may have increased this anxiety. (my emphasis added) My preference is to delete the clause beginning with "recent controversy". Thoughts? - Walkiped 03:30, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

I would call it as it is, and point out thatthe original entry was clearly not written from a neutral or objective point of view, is clearly an advocacy piece, and should be flagged accordingly.

All one has to do is add, "his supporters claim" at the beginning, with some mention of who these people were. This would be better than just flagging the neutrality of the piece, since in fact it is a significant aspect of this anthropologists' career that he had a large number of supporters who viewed the dismissal as politically motivated. To mention this reality is not to create an advocacy piece. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Right honorable dr. zombie (talkcontribs) 17:20, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Student Evaluation Claim[edit]

An anonymous user has added this sentence:

While opinion writers for the Yale Daily News, among others, have protested and created controversy over the issue, students review Graeber's classes as poorly focused and opinionated, albeit easy, as statistical evidence compiled from student evaluations shows.

This needs to be sourced b/c I have not been able to find anything to support the claim. Google finds nothing relevant when searching for the phrases "poorly focused" [1], "opinionated" [2] or "student evaluation" [3]. Can someone find a source? If not, the statement should probably be removed. - Nihila 15:13, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Neutrality banner removal[edit]

Is there any reason to keep the neutrality banner on this page? I don't see any conversation related to it on the talk page. If there is an outstanding POV issue, lets correct it - otherwise, lets remove the banner. - N1h1l 16:21, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

I agree, and just to be careful I have gone over the article, removed material that was clearly partial to Graeber, and given voice to the opposition view. I have removed the NPOV tag. Waltersobchak 23:16, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

Good work. - N1h1l 21:59, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

The problem with this is that in a knee-jerk desire to achieve "balance" the text has been wildly slanted in favor of "detractors". First of all, Yale gave no official reason whatever for my dismissal. So any claims by "detractors" - who are, significantly, all anonymous, while my defenders are willing to produce names and evidence - are utterly speculative. The claim that I appeared unprepared in class is outrageous and perhaps even actionable if I were a legalistic minded person. At no point did anyone accuse me of being unprepared in class. Certainly no one in the Yale administration made any such claim. I am in fact scrupulously well-prepared, never come to class without detailed lecture notes (that in grad seminars I often make available to students) and some of my theory courses are known as far away as India and Taiwan for being well-organized and comprehensive. The statement I appeared unprepared appears to be simply one individual's slur - apparently, the same individual who earlier tried to insert obviously false information, such as that "statistics" showed that in my classes I was "opinionated" (etc) - despite the fact that the statistics Yale does keep do not measure anything of the sort. The fact that this claim appears on this web page because some malicious individual posted something anonymously and then editors felt it was required for "balance" is an embarrassment to the entire wikipedia project. It has also been extremely damaging - since at least one published source has now cited my purported "unpreparedness" as the reason Yale is supposed to have fired me, despite the fact that Yale never accused me of anything of the sort. They could have only got this from the anonymous smear-artist on wikipedia, since no one else has ever reproduced such a claim.

Meanwhile, crucial and verifiable information: for instance, that I was one of the two most popular professors in the sociocultural department in terms of enrollment, that it was the students who initiated the protests, not me, or even that the main reason suggested by those students for my dismissal was my defense of a graduate student involved in organizing for GESO who the senior faculty attempted to expel from the program, simply do not appear.

I do not feel it would really be appropriate for me to edit my own entry but if someone doesn't intervene to remove this false and actually potentially libelous statement, I'm going to have to do it myself. If you really can't handle controversy, why not just say I was dismissed for reasons that Yale refused to specify and leave it at that? David Graeber

I agree with David's assessment. A Google search fails to return any reliable source for the "late and unprepared" statement. Unless this claim can be cited, It should be removed. - N1h1l 19:23, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. This is precisely the reason that uncited information must be removed immediately before it can cause further damage. I don't care if it's an article about a person or about a Pokemon. --Liface 03:58, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
I don't Wikipedia needs to get into why Yale fired Graeber. But surely the way he weighs in here should make anyone rethink the entire controversy. Clearly he is a hothead and likes to make up evidence ("as far away as China and India" Give me a break.) I also find it entertaining that a self-professor anarchist is so worried about controlling what is said... —Preceding unsigned comment added by Niemand2000 (talkcontribs) 03:23, 3 April 2009 (UTC)
I only just noticed this - years later.
Actually, the laughable element is this "Niemand" fellow's disbelief. Yale has plenty of students from India and China and if a course

is good, word will get around - particularly if they go back and get jobs in universities back home. If you don't believe me, why not check the original petition the students circulated on my behalf: of the two authors of the petition, Durba and Devika, one was from Delhi and the other if I remember originally from Bengal. One of their parents (again, if I remember exactly) has been circulating a photocopy of my lecture notes for "Anthropology and Classical Social Theory" in India. I also received a request at one point to come and lecture in Taiwan from an anthropology professor there who had said he'd heard there about this same course. None of this is particularly unusual - that is, if you teach a good course at Yale. Niemand just knows nothing about international academia.

I am a full professor at an institution much more prestigious than Graeber's. I get invited to give lectures in many countries. Sometimes my host mention hearing something about a course I teach at my university. It does not mean anything -- it is polite chit-chat at best. Graeber is simply delusional to think that these wildly inflated claims about his own importance mean anything. The simple fact is that the Yale evaluations (which I have been allowed to see) show that the students who liked his course thought it was incredibly easy. And most simply didn't like it. The real reason he was fired was that his scholarship is a joke (check out the review of his book in a recent American Historical Review. And check out the bitter, ad-hominem reply in a later issue; arguments on the merits are just not his style). Yes, he got a few students to sign a petition. Anyone can have groupies, especially if they are not interested in teaching well.

Again: I find it mildly entertaining that someone who claims to be an anarchist is a narcissistic control freak. Niemand2000 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 02:18, 23 April 2009 (UTC).

Wow! This is almost entertaining.
As for narcissistic control freak - um, well, you see, people who have been slandered often have a tendency to want

to point out that things said about them aren't true. It's kind of a trap, because if someone says "your scholarship sucks" and you point out, "actually I have received the following praise and honors" - then you look like an egotist. If you don't reply it's like your admitting that it's true. I would encourage you not to play along with people trying to set such traps.

As for the "I am a full professor" post - amazing! There is only one person in the world who could possibly have written

that. She is too cowardly to write her name, of course, but anyone who's ever been at Yale could tell who she must be.

If you combine (a) the self-importance (real scholars don't say "I am at an institution much more prestigious

than you", they'd be embarrassed), (b) the extraordinary malice ("scholarship is a joke"? there's only one academic I know who'd use a phrase like that), (c) the fact that they obviously were faculty at Yale (Yale does not let outsiders look at student evaluation forms), (d) the sloppiness, thinking people wouldn't notice that, or being so driven by rage that they didn't even care, and finally, (e) the habit of attacking others by accusing them of doing exactly what they are in fact doing at the time (at Yale, this prof was famous for, when she wanted to intimidate people, instantly accusing them of "intimidation" - now she's that she's making a bitter ad hominem against me she accuses me of making bitter ad hominems), there is no possibility it could be anyone else.

It's a person so crazy and sad that I actually am often tempted to feel sorry for her - but then I think of all the students

whose lives she's managed to destroy.

As for the substance, I'll just say three things.
1) the first time the Yale senior faculty tried to get rid of me they had to follow process, so they had my work

evaluated by a number of outside scholars of their own choosing. Since they all came back positive, and my student evaluations were positive, the dean told them they couldn't just get rid of me. So they asked, and received, special permission, just in this one case, to review me again the next year with no outside scholarly evaluation and no formal input from students. That should tell you everything.

2) the petition wasn't my idea, it was the students, and I honestly don't think it was even a good idea to go

along with it. Academics, as you can see above, like to pretend that students have no minds of their own and if they protest on a prof's behalf he must have put them up to it. Anyway, be this as it may, just about all socio-cultural students signed it (there are also a large number archeologists and biological anthropology students formally in the same department - but they of course knew nothing of the affair, and were not involved.) I think maybe four or five socio-culturals didn't. That's out of maybe 50 or 60. I find this especially touching because the students were deeply divided into a pro-union and anti-union faction; I had been accused of favoring the union; nonetheless, just about all the students from _both_ factions combined forces to protest my dismissal. It was actually about the only thing both sides could agree on.

3) just to show the veracity of my attacker - the book she mentions is Lost People, an ethnography of Madagascar.

The two most prominent anthropologists of Madagascar are Maurice Bloch and Michael Lambek. Both wrote blurbs calling it "brilliant" on the back of the book. There have been four published academic reviews, three glowing, one a hatchet job by a historian who clearly doesn't read Malagasy and has a history of launching vicious preemptive assaults on any young scholar who does. This is the review to which she refers. Ironically, that review employed ad hominems (it said my book is boring and that I must be a boring person); my response did not (though I certainly criticized the reviewer's knowledge of the subject.) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:32, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

Just to correct the wild assumptions: I am male and not a Yale anthropologist. I am someone who cares about teaching and scholarship, and thus have no interest in seeing someone like Graeber hijack the enterprise of scholarship to gratify his own needs.
Specifically: the teaching evaluations in question can be downloaded and thus sent anywhere there is email. I have seen them, and they are almost uniformly terrible. The positive ones say the course required virtually no work. Is a world-class university supposed to admire this as good teaching? On the AHR review: Graeber's response consists mostly of a long attack on another book written by the reviewer. If this is not ad-hominem then it is hard to know what qualifies as such.
Graeber postures as someone driven out of Yale for political reasons ("direct actions" and other such pretentious nonsense). The fact is, he is just a poseur.

~~ —Preceding unsigned comment added by Niemand2000 (talkcontribs) 20:32, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

Un huh. Let me see, first post, you were a very important senior professor at a university "much more prestigious" than mine, and Yale had "allowed" you to look at student evaluations. Now you're saying you just read them online. Get your story straight!
This is pointless. As I say, if you are really a full professor at a major university, then I can only imagine one in the world crazy enough to write what you did. Or who would actually spend their time cyberstalking another scholar (what did it take you, twelve hours to reply to that? Do you check my wikipedia discussion page every day?? Why not try doing research or writing books or something like that?)
Of course it's true, I was assuming you were a prof. You could also just be some random wingnut.
Easily resolved: if you're really a full professor at a major university, tell us who you are. Name, title, university. If not: why not? What are you afraid of?
PS: actually, you don't know what an ad hominem attack is. It's an attack on someone's personal character extraneous to the matter under debate. As for example the reviewer in question made when he said I was a boring person. If someone tells you "I know more about 19th century Malagasy demographics than you and your numbers are wrong" and you reply "actually, you don't know more about 19th century Malagasy demographics than I do; I was using census documents from the royal archives and in your published work you don't seem to be aware such census documents even exist" - that's not an ad hominem attack. Someone's knowledge of Malagasy demographic sources actually is of relevance to their opinion on the subject of Malagasy demographics.
Myself, I don't go around writing reviews trashing other scholars' books - any more than I go on other scholar's wikipedia discussion pages and start raining anonymous insults at them. I only agree to review books I like, because... well, why would I want to damage the career of another scholar? Reviews are important for tenure. That guy on the other hand is notorious for viciously attacking junior scholars - ones who, unlike me, are untenured and could genuinely suffer - for the crime of actually knowing how to read Malagasy. If I make him think twice before doing it again, it will be well worth having earned the rancor of people like you. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:07, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
Everybody, sign your statements with ~~~~ (four tildes), so your statements are properly signed and dated! ... said: Rursus (mbork³) 21:37, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

Too little anthropology[edit]

Yale, this, booklist that... the article needs some info about what those books, theses etc. contains, more than the titles tells us. I surfed into this guy to see how he relies on Critical realism for his analyses, to see what that method can give, especially if there's a linguistic element in it. ... said: Rursus (mbork³) 21:37, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

Early life[edit]

I just took out the bit about his father and mother – if anybody can find a source that's not just a mirror of the content of this article, I'd be happy to see it put back in. --Accedietalk to me 04:13, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

Aaaaand somebody did. Thanks, IP! Collaboration in action :) --Accedietalk to me 21:59, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

BusinessWeek resource David Graeber, the Anti-Leader of Occupy Wall Street[edit]

Meet the anthropologist, activist, and anarchist who helped transform a hapless rally into a global protest movement October 26, 2011, 11:35 PM EDT by Drake Bennett (talk) 22:38, 2 November 2011 (UTC)


This section had become rather bloated, and I found dozens more, and in many cases better, through searching. They should be integrated as references or collected offsite and from there linked.

Skomorokh 20:59, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

Doesn't self identify as an anarchist so that part should probably be removed[edit]

"I'm an anthropologist, sometimes I occupy things & such. I see anarchism as something you do not an identity so don't call me the anarchist anthropologist" — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:34, 18 April 2014 (UTC)

With respect for BLPs, that's something we take into account (and can maybe even note, ideally said through a secondary source), but we ultimately use what the reliable sources say on the topic of his political affiliations, not his self-identification. czar  12:06, 18 April 2014 (UTC)

no that means I don't identify as an "anarchist anthropologist." Because I don't do something called "anarchist anthropology." You can call me an anarchist if you like. DG — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:13, 5 July 2014 (UTC)

a strange article[edit]

this sounds very biased.

We read a lot of dirt thrown at Yale about what is an issue about renewing a contract, is this useful for readers of an encyclopaedia? If Graeber's scholarship was held in such high regard, why do his academic publications list almost nothing produced whilst at Yale? Either the biblio is incomplete or he has no output during that time, therefore we can assume that the contract issue may have been to do with poor performance.

My suggestion, remove details about this debacle as it does neither Yale nor Graeber any service and is not much use for information anyways. (talk) 18:11, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

Something covered by multiple reliable, independent sources (including The New York Times) is generally considered noteworthy of inclusion in a related article. The weight of such a topic within the article has some wiggle room, but the case for its inclusion is obvious. As for theorizing the incident you mention, that's not our business. Our job is to only to present the reliable sources. czar  02:05, 16 January 2015 (UTC)

In that case, where are these other sources? Going to the one article that is actually cited we find Graeber is told to produce more if he wants a contract. (talk) 14:49, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

Graeber has also weighed in on this himself- or someone purporting to be Graeber, at least- suggesting the section should be toned down. (talk) 14:53, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

Gezi Park sources[edit]

He supported Gezi Park protests [1] which was also supported by George Soros affiliated Open Society Foundations [2].

  1. ^ Holmes, Amy Austin. Counterpunch Retrieved 26 june 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Karaca, Nihal. "Soros’un itirafı". Haberturk. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 

The Counterpunch source doesn't support that claim about Graeber—there are better sources available—and keep in mind its partisan background when discussing its reliability and the type of claims it best substantiates (where is the reputation for fact-checking or quality?) And the Haberturk Soros commentary has even less to do with Graeber—belongs perhaps on the article about the OSF but not here. czar 17:47, 13 January 2016 (UTC)

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