From Proudhon to Lévi-Strauss And Beyond – A Dialogue Between Anarchism and Indigenous America

Issue: 
Autumn 2018

I will present a theoretical framework to open a dialogue between Amerindian and anarchist political forms through anthropology, highlighting an anarchist influence on the discipline and the contributions this dialogue can offer both anarchism and anthropology. I will point out similarities between Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s and Claude Lévi-Strauss’ dialectics, suggesting that the first self-declared anarchist may have strongly influenced the Americanist anthropologist. Nevertheless, indigenous American peoples show their influence in Lévi-Strauss work by adding to it eccentric anti-unitarian perspectives. These comparisons unfold in the study of the ‘federative principle’ through Proudhon’s ‘political dualism’ and in the ‘dualism in perpetual imbalance made politics’ investigated by Beatriz Perrone-Moisés and Renato Sztutman in Amerindian cosmopolitics. Some key Amerindian deviations from politics are found to contribute critically to anarchist organisation and theory. I pay special attention to the way of life and thought of the A’uwe-Xavante people, with whom I have done ethnographic research, focusing particularly on kinship, gender, generations and game play.

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