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A Leap Into the Future Primitive: Anarcho-Primitivist Ontologies As New Directions In Anthropological Theory?

Thursday, November 17, 2011
Montreal Convention Center Rue Poster- Purple (Palais des congrès de Montréal)
Layla AbdelRahim (na)
Ontological concepts have the power to direct desires, formulate beliefs, and inform our actions. In this regard, genesis stories of human and non-human origins that human animals narrate inform epistemologies and determine the ways in which human animals relate to the world and understand kinship with other beings including ways of constructing differences be they across the lines of gender, racial, ethnic, tribal, or species. Even though anarchist critiques of domesticated ontologies have challenged civilized theory for more than a century (e.g. the research on evolution and empathy by Peter Kropotkin), John Zerzan’s anarcho-primitivist critique of the basic premises underlying the narratives of domestication and civilization, where language and symbolic thought constitute the tools for discrimination, organized violence and exploitation of the environment, offers radically new venues for anthropological understanding of humanity challenging the socio-economic culture at the root of scientific theory and practice, particularly when examined through Bourdieu’s theory of praxis. Wild ontologies, I argue, are based on narratives of genesis that generate horizontal kinship models often inclusive of non-human forms and consciousness that are accessible through transformation into animals or objects thereby fostering intimate socio-economic relationships across species leading to biodiversity and presenting the purpose for the existence of beings as outside the realm of human control. In contrast, civilized ontology structures linear relationships of progress as based on utilitarian purpose for the existence of beings as “resources” for humans but also locked in a “cycle of life” of inter-species’ consumption and predation, ultimately leading to domesticated relationships.

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