Pirates have long lived in the realm of romance and fantasy, symbolizing risk, lawlessness, and radical visions of freedom. But at the root of this mythology is a rich history of pirate societies―vibrant, imaginative experiments in self-governance and alternative social formations at the edges of the European empire. David Graeber conducted ethnographic field research in Madagascar where he encountered the Zana-Malata, an ethnic group of mixed descendants of the many pirates who settled on the island at the beginning of the eighteenth century. In this book Graeber considers how the proto democratic, even libertarian practices of the Zana-Malata came to shape the Enlightenment project defined for too long as distinctly European.
Book of the Week: “Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia” by David Graeber