Tag Archives: Capitalism

A “Four-Field Manifesto” for Moral Optimism

Traces of ancient raised fields in Bolivia mark a former sustainable agricultural system. Source: Clarl Erickson, UPENN

Anthropology needs to make “an explicit claim to the moral optimism that may be this discipline’s greatest appeal and yet its most guarded secret” (Trouillot, p.136).

So begins a stirring essay by Jason Antrosio, an Anthropologist at Hartwicke College.  Ostensibly about Capitalism and its excesses, the piece also works as a “four-field manifesto” for moral optimism in the contemporary global context.  In this, Anthropology is urged towards the forefront of a movement to contemplate the relationship between market forces and the global citizen.

Drawing heavily on the work of Michel-Rolph Trouillot, the essay takes each Anthropological subdiscipline in turn, showing how singly and together they challenge the easy conventional wisdom about “human nature” which structures contemporary discourses and political thought:  humans are naturally greedy and selfish, Capitalism harnesses greed and selfishness to productive ends, therefore Capitalism is inevitable and invincible.

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