Pierre Bordieu on the Academy

September 7, 2010 at 11:14 pm (Uncategorized)

A little grandiose in the title department, but I carry on anyway.

I’ve been reading David Graeber’s book Possibilities. Graeber is an anthropologist who teaches in the UK. He’s also an anarchist and writes very interesting things in a way that makes you think, “Why didn’t I think of that.”

The first issue of the very wonderful Radical Anthropology has a piece by Graeber in it, which sets out his orientation.

Anyway, there’s a couple of good observations from French sociologist Pierre Bordieu in the book which are worth repeating:

Graeber recounts how Bordieu visted the UNiversity of Chicago at the height of his popularity. All the scholars wanted to meet him, but it turned out Bordieu was much more interested in meeting Students, because ” with students, you can actually discuss ideas. Your colleagues, all they want to do is kill you.”

And in an essay on vanguardism, Graeber points out, “Pierre Bordieu once noted that if the academic field is a game in which scholars strive for dominance, then you know you have won when other scholars start wondering how to make an adjective out of your name.”


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