Direct Action

An Ethnography

Paperback, 600 pages

Published Jan. 4, 2009 by AK Press.

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5 stars (4 reviews)

Direct Action: An Ethnography offers a lengthy, traditional anthropological account of anarchist organizing efforts, with a focus on New York City’s Direct Action Network. For fellow researchers, he addresses the difficulties of using the narrative form and offers tips such as notetaking tools used (spiral notebook and rapidograph, a technical pen that eases hand-writing). Throughout, Graeber recounts the actions taken by the state against protestors, namely, policing and myths disseminated to encourage the frontline police to follow orders. [Source][1]

[1]: orgtheory.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/democracy-and-direct-action-according-to-david-graeber/

2 editions

reviewed Direct Action by David Graeber

getting the goods

5 stars

a really interesting book, split into a couple of sections that could probably serve to be their own theses! it's quirky, but is interested in shining a light into the counter-globalization movement of the early oughts, and it comes out with some really interesting insights!

the first half is an account of the planning leading up to 3rd Summit of the Americas protest in Quebec City, and the ethnographic approach makes it a dizzying tour of the nuts and bolts of consensus decision-making, activist problem solving (how do we cross a border without dealing with border security?), and acceptable or interesting tactics. it's about as much of a page-turner as an ethnography can be, and ends with firsthand accounts of the actual protest, which i haven't read much of.

the second half is a little more undirected, kind of interested in answering questions that wouldn't be satisfied by the ethnography. …

Review of 'Direct Action' on Goodreads

5 stars

Very readable account of Black Bloc / anarchist protest actions in the early 2000s, primarily leading to the Quebec G20 summit of 2000. Consists of Graeber's personal involvement, notes, minutes, and summaries of many public meetings in preparing for the summit; analysis of the nature of non-violence and civil disobedience in America post-1990s (in light of the Zapatistas, Earth First!, and Seattle WTO 1999); detailed thoughts on the consensus decision process as exercised particularly by the Direct Action groups in NYC between Seattle and Montreal and as later seen by most of us in the OWS councils; and the relation of these protest groups to challenges of minority and feminist representation. "The internet is great for disseminating information and useless for making decisions." Absolutely 5+ stars.

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