What would a new old system look like?

As we regularly check ourselves about the nature of governance, political economies, participation in the polis, oppression, exclusion, and power… perhaps one of our next readings ought to look to an older source of wisdom. We have touched on indigeneity, and have read some feminist scholars. But we haven’t really looked at anything that combined the two, and the book below apparently does that. This from a food systems list I’m on, from poster Debbie Hillman, a consultant in Evanston, Illinois:

New System?  If anyone wants to read about a model for the new system, I would recommend diving into the details of the Iroquois Constitution and the Iroquois League.  I think the answers have been right under our noses, in plain sight.

The most detailed book by far (that I have been able to find) is:
Iroquoian Women: The Gantowisas
by Barbara Alice Mann
2000, Peter Lang Publishing
“Gantowisas” is variously defined in the book as:
— clan mothers
— government women
— indispensable women
The chapter titles will give you an idea of the structure of the book and of the League itself.  To me, it reads like a poem:
1.  No-Face Husk Doll:  Women Wiped Clean from the Record
2.  The Direction of the Sky:  Gendered for Balance
3.  “They are the Soul of the Councils”:  Women’s Role in Political Life
4.  “Good Rule:  They Assist One Another”: Women’s Control of Economics
5.  “No Whips, No Punishments, No Threats”: Women’s Control of Social Life
6.  “Come, Let me Untangle your Hair”:  Women as Faithkeepers
Epilogue:  Now our Minds are One
Dr. Mann is a humanities scholar at University of Toledo.  She is also a member of the Seneca Bear Clan nation, which is part of the Iroquois League.  The book is both scholarly and fun.  Dr. Mann does not hold back, in truth-telling or in humor.

Fall Quarter Reading Proposals

We just finished reading J.K. Gibson-Graham’s A Postcapitalist Politics.Those of us who were part of the group reading the book decided that we would like to read an essay or two from Arjun Appadurai’s The Future as Cultural Fact next and also finalize what we want to tackle next. The general consensus was leaning towards something more empirical and perhaps not by a WM. Some proposals for fall quarter reading are below, please put forth your own proposals and/or vote on the ones already proposed. We’d like to make a decision at our next meeting on October 09, 2015.


Jesse’s proposal: J.K. Gibson- Graham’s “Take Back the Economy


Sush’s proposal 1: Ayona Datta’s “The Illegal City”


Sush’s Proposal 2: Bryan McCan’s “Hard Times in a Marvelous City”

Summer Reading!

We finished reading Henri Lefebvre’s Critique of Everyday Life Volume II today and the time has come to pick what we want to read over the summer. We’d ideally like to read something over end of June and July and then something else over August and possibly September. There was some discussion on reading something more empirical and maybe by a non-WM scholar, based on which some proposals are:

More Theoretical (but, by non-WM scholars)

  1. A Postcapitalist Politics by J.K. Gibson-Graham
  2. Theory from the South: Or, How Euro-America is Evolving Toward Africa by Jean Comaroff and John Comaroff (A review of the same in Cultural Anthropology)
  3. Ordinary Cities: Between Modernity and Development by Jennifer Robinson (A review of the same)

Empirical (but some WM Scholars)

  1. The Illegal City by Ayona Datta
  2. Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection by Anna L. Tsing
  3. Hard Times in the Marvelous City by Bryan McCann

Feel free to add your nominations for reading for this summer to this list. Also, please vote on what you would like to read in the comments section.

***Mark’s Addition:

We might also consider reading Clastres, as he has some parts in the first book that shifted how I see things.  He is also a major influence on D&G, as well as Graeber, so he would bring together some past threads.  He is, however, a scholar of the WM persuasion.

  1. Society Against the State, by Pierre Clastres
  2. Archeology of Violence, by Le Meme

Dispatch from Downtown

I do my very best to abstain from buying anything from the Wal-Mart of the internet (Amazon), so when I can’t find a book at Elliott Bay or the University Book Store, I typically make online purchases from Powell’s. However, in the wake of our last group meeting — where I confessed to having never associated with any proper anarchists, nor even setting foot in an anarchist bookstore — I walked in to Left Bank Books to see if they had a copy of Agamben’s The Coming Community. They did, and it was three bucks cheaper than Powell’s. I was in a hurry so I didn’t look around much, but the place felt a lot like City Lights and I’ll be returning soon.