Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia
Author: David Graeber
The final posthumous work by the coauthor of the major New York Times bestseller The Dawn of Everything.
Pirates have long lived in the realm of romance and fantasy, symbolizing risk, lawlessness, and radical visions of freedom. But at the root of this mythology is a rich history of pirate societies—vibrant, imaginative experiments in self-governance and alternative social formations at the edges of European empire.
In graduate school, David Graeber conducted ethnographic field research in Madagascar, producing what would eventually become a doctoral thesis on the island’s magic, slavery, and politics. During this time, he encountered the Zana-Malata, an ethnic group made up of mixed descendants of the many pirates who settled on the island at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia, Graeber's final posthumous book, is the outgrowth of this early research, and the culmination of ideas that he explored in his classic, bestselling works Debt and The Dawn of Everything (written with the archeologist David Wengrow).
Graeber explores how the proto-democratic practices of the Zana-Malata came to shape the Enlightenment project defined for too long as distinctly European. He illuminates the non-European origins of what we consider to be “Western” thought, and endeavors to recover forgotten forms of social and political order that gesture toward new, hopeful possibilities for the future.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux