New History of Humanity

This was the homepage for a course on The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, a 2021 book by David Graeber and David Wengrow. See the YouTube lecture playlist:

History of Humanity: Outline

Traditional

  • Chapter 1, “Farewell to Humanity’s Childhood” (1-11)

Farewell

  • Finish chapter 1 (11-26)

Indigenous Critique

  • Chapter 2, “Wicked Liberty” (27-48)

Kandiaronk

  • Finish chapter 2 (48-77)

Ice Age

  • Chapter 3, “Unfreezing the Ice Age” (78-98)

Seasonality

  • Finish chapter 3 (98-120)

Egalitarian

  • Chapter 4, “Free People, the Origin of Cultures, and the Advent of Private Property” (120-140)

Property

  • Finish chapter 4 (141-163)

Culture Areas

  • Chapter 5, “Many Seasons Ago” (164-185)

Capture

  • Finish chapter 5 (186-209)

Fertile

  • Chapter 6, “Gardens of Adonis” (210-229)

Plants

  • Finish chapter 6 (229-248)

Farming

  • Chapter 7, “The Ecology of Freedom” (249-275)

Cities

  • Chapter 8, “Imaginary Cities” (276-297)

Democracy

  • Finish chapter 8 (297-327)

Teotihuacan

  • Chapter 9, “Hiding in Plain Sight” (328-358)

Shape of Time

  • Chapter 10, “Why the State Has No Origin” (359-391)

Kings

  • Chapter 10 (392-418)

Civilization

  • Finish chapter 10 (418-440)

Clans

  • Chapter 11, “Full Circle” (441-471)

Smoking

  • Finish chapter 11 (471-492)

Social

  • Chapter 12, “Conclusion” (493-514)

Myths

  • Finish chapter 12 (514-526)

Advanced Anthropology: A New History of Humanity

This course explores a groundbreaking new history of humanity through the lens of David Graeber and David Wengrow’s work, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. This book has achieved remarkable success, becoming one of the bestselling titles in anthropology and archaeology in recent years. Graeber, known for his earlier work Debt: The First 5000 Years, unfortunately passed away before completing the planned three-volume series with archaeologist Wengrow.

The book’s success is noteworthy, as it is uncommon for academic works proposing a new history of humanity to achieve bestseller status. It has garnered praise from prominent intellectuals, including Noam Chomsky and Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan.

Course Structure & Objectives

Throughout the semester, we systematically examined this new perspective on human history, supplementing our discussions with additional research and anthropological theories. This approach allowed us to:

  1. Explore the evolution of anthropological thought leading to this new history of humanity
  2. Analyze the current state and potential impact of anthropology in rewriting human history
  3. Develop critical thinking skills by considering multiple viewpoints on human development

The Need for a New History of Humanity

Graeber and Wengrow present three primary reasons for their reexamination of human history:

  1. To correct inaccuracies in previous accounts of human development
  2. To address the “dire political implications” of existing historical narratives
  3. To make the past more engaging and less “needlessly dull”

The authors assert that “previous accounts, those old histories of humanity, ‘simply aren’t true'” (3). Their goal is to present a more accurate portrayal of our collective past, potentially challenging our preconceptions about human social evolution.

Academic Rigor & Real-World Relevance

While the primary focus of this course was on the factual content and academic merits of this new history of humanity, we also considered its broader implications. This approach reflected the evolving nature of anthropology as a discipline that seeks to engage with real-world issues.

We aimed to examine:

  • The accuracy and validity of the authors’ claims about human history
  • The potential political and social implications of new anthropological narratives
  • The relevance of this revised understanding of humanity’s past in contemporary society

Critical Approach to the Text

It is essential to approach The Dawn of Everything and its new history of humanity with a critical mindset. While the book offers valuable insights and up-to-date information, we must be mindful of the authors’ objectives, particularly their focus on political implications and narrative appeal. To ensure a balanced perspective, we attempted to:

  • Supplement the book with additional sources and viewpoints on human history
  • Encourage critical analysis and discussion of the authors’ claims about social evolution
  • Consider alternative interpretations and competing theories of humanity’s past

Conclusion

This course offered a unique opportunity to engage with a groundbreaking new history of humanity while developing critical thinking skills and exploring anthropology’s broader relevance. By examining The Dawn of Everything in depth and supplementing it with additional perspectives, we aimed for a comprehensive understanding of current anthropological thought and its potential impact on our understanding of human history and society.

Recap: New History of Humanity

This was the homepage for a course on The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, a 2021 book by David Graeber and David Wengrow. See the YouTube lecture playlist:


Living Anthropologically means documenting history, interconnection, and power during a time of global transformation. We need to care for others as we attempt to build a world together. This blog is a personal project of Jason Antrosio, author of Fast, Easy, and In Cash: Artisan Hardship and Hope in the Global Economy. For updates, subscribe to the YouTube channel or follow on Twitter.

Living Anthropologically is part of the Amazon Associates program and earns a commission from qualifying purchases, including ads and Amazon text links. There are also Google ads and Google Analytics which may use cookies and possibly other tracking information. See the Privacy Policy.

Share
Print
Email
Tweet
Pin
Share