Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia

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Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia (2023, Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

English language

Published Jan. 2, 2023 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

ISBN:
978-0-374-61019-7
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4 stars (11 reviews)

2 editions

Review of 'Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

An interesting look into the Pirate influence in Madagascar (and the Madagascar influence on Pirates). Asks the question, could the social norms, democratic systems, and consensus building that developed amongst pirates, as well as the cultural influences of the Malagasy (especially the women) have had a role in crafting Enlightenment thinking in the 17th century. Adds a nice bit of spice to the story of the Age of Enlightenment,and I hope the answer is yes.

Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia

3 stars

I'd been waiting for years for this book to come out in English, so I was excited that it finally did.

Like many books written by anthropologists, it spends a lot more time discussing facts and histories than it does trying to argue a political point: more than halfway through the book, Graeber writes “At this point, we can finally turn to the story of Ratsimilaho, and examine it in its proper context” — a story which is mostly history, rather than the argument of a thesis I was expecting from this book.

On the one hand, I'm not especially interested in the history of 16ᵗʰ and 17ᵗʰ century Madagascar — on the other hand, going into depth on that history is the only way to avoid the exoticization that's so endemic to political texts drawing from other cultures.

The tension between the ideals that it's pleasant to image the …

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