Category: Anthropology

  • LES PÊCHEURS D’HOUAT (1983), 2012 reprint

    My first book, Les pêcheurs d’Houat, adapted from my anthropology Ph.D. thesis, had been out of print for many many years. Éditions du croquant have been kind enough to offer a reprint. Monique Woodward has translated here my foreword for the 2012 edition.

    I have lived on the Isle of Houat from February 1973 to May 1974. I have returned several times in the following years, the last time in 1978. The time after that was in 2010. Water had flowed under the bridges. A lot of seawater had flowed with the rhythm of the tides between Valuec and … Read the rest



    There is a question that neeeds to be answered at all costs; 19th century thinkers have devoted much thought towards its solution. Here it is: when we consider rent obtained by a landowner or by the owner of mineral ore extracted from the ground, interest obtained by the owner of capital also known as capitalist, the profit gained by an industrialist or entrepreneur, and the wages paid to a worker, is one of these incomes unjustified and thereby undeserved?

    The only point … Read the rest

  • One-Day Conference : Anthropology of the Crisis of Contemporary Capitalism, Paris, May 3d 2011

    International Study Day

    Anthropology of the Crisis of Contemporary Capitalism

    3 mai 2011, 10h-17h, musée du quai Branly, 37 Quai Branly, 75007 Paris, Cinema Theater

    Convened by Jonathan Friedman (IRIS/EHESS) & Laurent Berger (LAS/MQB)


    10h-10h15 Jonathan Friedman (IRIS-EHESS) & Laurent Berger (LAS-MQB) « Introduction: Towards an anthropology of the crisis in capitalism »

    10h15-11h Paul Jorion                                                                                                                        « How to become the anthropologist of the crisis »

    11h-11h30 Discussion

    11h30-12h15 Don Kalb (Central European University, Budapest and Utrecht University)

    « Financialization and Neo-nationalism in the New Old Europe »

    12h15-12h45 Discussion


    14h30-15h15 Keith Hart (Goldsmiths University of London)                                                          … Read the rest

  • And then Paul Jorion created a Theory of Prices

    Original Post : And then Paul Jorion created a Theory of Prices.

    Translated by Lorna MiskellySee the original article in French
    Article also translated in: 

    It’s the ‘rentrée littéraire’ in France. Among the 700 books that will be released between now and the end of October -500 of which are written in French- there is one that has grabbed us. “Le Prix” (The Price) written by the economist and blogger Paul Jorion. After having published a essay in 2009 about the invention of truth and reality, he has now formulated his “theory of prices” in this latest … Read the rest

  • What went wrong. An anthropologist’s point of view.

    Here is the communication I made on March 3rd to the Socialist members of the European Parliament in Brussels as my contribution to the one-day conference entitled “Closing the casino: building a fairer and stronger real economy”

    Modern societies of European origin were historically built according to a tripartite structure composed of warriors-raiders, priests and commoners. By the time the new concept of democracy emerged, the land and the wealth buried in it had already been distributed by the warriors-raiders between themselves. Inheritance of property had contributed at strengthening this pattern. Bourgeois revolutions of the eighteen century condoned the addition … Read the rest

  • What have anthropologists to tell about the subprime crisis that no one else has said before?

    Finance is in shambles. It has remained until now under the close supervision of economic and financial theory. In recent years, due to the overbearing dominance of views developed under the umbrella of the “Chicago School” of economics, finance has been regarded as explainable through the combination of a very simplified version of psychology: that of the “homo oeconomicus“, and of physics. The physics in question is supposed to have risen all-armoured Minerva-like out of the embarrassingly simplified psychology hitherto mentioned. This is the tenet of methodological individualism presiding nowadays over mainstream economics and financial theory.

    Human nature, … Read the rest

  • Galactic Report XYZ 00098887


    I need to report to you what might be a case of acute poisoning while on mission on planet Terra.

    Yesterday, in the course of my duty, I happened to hold very tight for a couple of minutes a human female (from now on HF). Today, as a consequence of this I developed disturbing symptoms. Repeatedly during the day, and for no apparent reason, my train of thought was brought back to holding the HF tight. Each time the memory occurred my body was overwhelmed by a powerful feeling reminiscent of the influence of a toxic substance. The feeling … Read the rest

  • Where this blog stands

    Various commitments on papers commissioned in French have kept me away from this blog. Reward is another factor: with an average of around 30 daily hits on the English blog and 2500 on the French one, vanity has been a powerful drive for concentrating on the French one. Dialogue is another one. If you’ve had the opportunity of looking at the French blog you will have noticed that commentators often engage in lively conversations, with me resting comfortably in the meantime in the bleachers.

    Why is that so? I believe that my reputation as a writer in English is not … Read the rest

  • The long-term goals of businesses

    Businesses don’t seem to have any long–term goals apart from staying in business. They no doubt provide benefits to their shareholders and executives during their lifetime but why they aim at persisting in their existence with little reflection devoted to the “why?” of it is far from obvious. There is a clear analogy here with people and groups of people who – as we know from experience – persist in their endeavors without often much of a justification for why.

    An analogy can be drawn here with a particular form of kinship structure which the anthropologist Marshall Sahlins explained in … Read the rest

  • How wars get started

    When in 1975 I became a student at Cambridge University my parents visited me there. It was actually their first stay in England. My mother was enchanted with the country. I wanted to know why and she explained that houses were “normal”, people behaved “normally”, everything in England was so essentially “normal”. I pressed her gently about the source of such “normalcy”: “Well”, she said, “houses look like Dutch houses; people respond to you like they would in Holland; you know…”

    Adriana’s father is Romanian and he shares with my mother the same sound sense of normalcy based on the … Read the rest

  • Old-style publishing a paper

    Now when you want to publish an article, you write it, you put it on your website and within days hundreds if not thousands of people have read it. Sometimes someone will approach you and ask if they can publish it in the old-fashioned way, in a journal, and you’ll say “Why not?” In the old days, you would write your paper, send it to a journal, wait for six months, then at long last you would receive a letter telling you about hundreds of changes readers who have no clue about what you are writing about expect you to … Read the rest