Counterintuitive utopias

What modern society can learn from anthropology


  • Guido Sprenger



What if the institutions of modern society were not informed by the ideas of Descartes or Adam Smith but by those of Mauss, Viveiros de Castro or their anthropological inspirations? This extrapolation would lead to counterintui-tive utopias, to institutions that are always in the making, but that nevertheless offer alternative ways of dealing with xenophobia, capitalism or the environmental crisis. Xenophobia would be countered by the model of the stranger king, the integration of the stranger as a necessity for a complete society. Capitalism would be restricted to the market and subordinated to the principles of gift exchange. An objectifying notion of nature would be complemented by practices of animism that enable a moral relationship with non-humans. The value of otherness and concepts of per-sonhood unite these three approaches.