Pierre Clastres’s “The Duty to Speak”

November’s Reading: Pierre Clastres, “The Duty to Speak” (1974)

Wednesday, 16 November 2011
7 PM
VIVO (1965 Main Street)

Guest-Facilitated by Raymond Boisjoly

Keeping in proximity with the Imminent Future presentation, November’s edition of No Reading will be guest-facilitated by Raymond Boisjoly. We will be looking at Pierre Clastres’s “The Duty to Speak” drawn from Society Against the State. This short work is a meditation on the interrelations of speech and power. As he does throughout this collection of essays, Clastres shuttles between articulations of this relationship in cultures within and outside of State forms. Clastres’s view of primitive societies is broadly opposed to an evolutionary conception that holds that such formations are destined to grow into state forms. To this end, his work is preoccupied with the threshold that seperates hierarchy from horizontality and his look at societies without States is preoccupied with the means by which these formations preserve their condition.

Pierre Clastres was a French anthropologist and ethnographer. He conducted fieldwork with the Aché (Guayaki), Guarani, and Yanomami peoples of South America. Books such as Archaeology of Violence and Society Against the State, written in the 1970s, work to articulate the political positivities of these groups–taking in their relationships to violence, economics and social organization.

Raymond Boisjoly is an artist who lives and works in Vancouver. He has had a handful of opportunities to show work in the city, in the last few years, at spaces such as Lucky’s, the central branch of the public library, Access, and Republic. Much of this work seems to be engaged with the form, figure, situation, and functioning of language.