In memoriam David Graeber

We lament the death of David Graeber on September 2, 2020. An Editor of HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory but also anarchist and political activist, Graeber drew a large audience to anthropology unlike any since Margaret Mead, whose books, magazine articles, and radio addresses were read and listened to by millions of middle-class families in their living rooms. Graeber made novel use of the opportunities of new social media and the Internet for dissemination of his fecund ideas. Among these ideas his boldest and perhaps most influential has been a re-interpretation of the history of debt challenging some basic assumptions of economists, which have legitimized the great inequalities of our time. Equally, his writings on 'Bullshit jobs' have given shape and meaning to a widespread feeling of uselessness in the contemporary workfield. While these works, combined with his engagement in transnational political movements, account for his stature as a public intellectual, they should not overshadow his important contributions to the ethnography of Madagascar, the anthropology of magic, the sacred roots of kingship and the nature of prehistoric societies. The depth and breadth of his scholarship was astounding, his curiosity insatiable and his ability to surprise and engage his audience unmatched.

Board of Directors, Society for Ethnographic Theory