Prickly Pear Pamphlets

In 1993, in Cambridge, England, the anthropologists Anna Grimshaw and Keith Hart started a small press called Prickly Pear. Inspired by the eighteenth-century figure of the pamphleteer, their goal was nothing less than to revitalize a stagnant academy. Together, they published a series of ten pamphlets by a range of authors — young, old, unknown, and famous — on a range of topics in anthropology, the history of science, and ethnographic film. “We emulate the passionate amateurs of history who circulated new and radical ideas to as wide an audience as possible,” they said. “And we hope in the process to reinvent anthropology as a means of engaging with society.” In 1998, Matthew Engelke and Mark Harris took over the press, expanding its operations in the world market and adding a few titles to its list.

In 2001, Prickly Paradigm established itself as a new incarnation of Prickly Pear, edited by Matthew, with Marshall Sahlins as publisher. In 2003, Mark Harris began publishing essays under the name “Prickly Polemics” in Critique of Anthropology. In 2004, Justin Shaffner scanned the original pamphlets into a PDF format and made them freely available for distribution on the Internet. The pamphlets may be downloaded below, with the exception of two that were republished by Prickly Paradigm.

Check out this recent notice in Savage Minds.

Prickly Pear 1
Anthropology and the Crisis of the Intellectuals
Anna Grimshaw and Keith Hart
“Somehow, all of us must devise ways of inserting ourselves meaningfully into the most inclusive versions of human history.”

Prickly Pear 2
Waiting for Foucault
Marshall Sahlins
“Ours is the only culture that has escaped deconstruction by the changing of the avant garde, as it retains its essentialized and monolithic character as a system of domination.”

Prickly Pear 3
From Physics to Anthropology — and Back Again
Simon Schaffer
“Boas and Rivers returned attention to their own culture. The return from the field to the metropolis revealed the fundamental political structures of their tradition in characteristic institutions of modern know-how: the museum, the hospital, the academy and the state.”

Prickly Pear 4
Redrawing the Map: Two African Journeys
Gabriel Gbadamosi and Ato Quayson
“The genre of post-colonial travelogue demands a new geography — new points of origin, trajectories of meaning, enigmas of arrival…”

Prickly Pear 5
Anthropology, the Intellectuals, and the Gulf War
Patrick Wilcken
“Intellectuals can no longer go straight to the public but must bow to the demands of the media if they are to reach a wider audience than their immediate academic circle.”

Prickly Pear 6
The Relation
Marilyn Strathern
“…readers generate their own responses by everything brought to the reading � you don’t (ordinarily) read a book by writing it over again.”

Prickly Pear 7
Miracle in Natal: Revolution by Ballot-Box
Alan Thorold
“It was a moment that was filled with wonder and grace, a time of dreams and wishes and miracles. After so much brutality…the spirit of the election emerged as something that transformed us all.”

Prickly Pear 8
Conversations with Anthropological Film-Makers: Melissa Llewelyn-Davies
Anna Grimshaw
“The wonderful thing about film, if you use the medium properly, is that the image is richer and overwhelms your simple message and commentary.”

Prickly Pear 9
Conversations with Anthropological Film-Makers: David MacDougall
Anna Grimshaw and Nikos Papastergiadis
“There’s a close parallel between the notion of the anthropologist as hero, discovering a foreign culture and bringing it back home, and the film-maker doing the same thing and bringing back evidence of it on film.”

Prickly Pear 10
On Becoming Authentic: An Interview with Jimmie Durham
Nikos Papastergiadis and Laura Turney
“The only way I can be Indian now, the only way I can be Cherokee now, is nostalgically. I can tell the stories but anyone can tell any stories now, stories don’t have the weight that we need them to have, they’re not the proper baggage.”

Prickly Pear 11
Against Bosses, Against Oligarchies: A Conversation with Richard Rorty
Derek Nystrom and Kent Puckett
“We interviewed Richard Rorty for four hours over the course of a weekend in Charlottesville. This interview is not only, we think, ideally timed, following closely several recent publications by Rorty, but captures Rorty at his most energetic.”

Prickly Pear 12
Waiting for Foucault: And Other Aphorisms
Marshall Sahlins
“Ours is the only culture that has escaped deconstruction by the changing of the avant garde, as it retains its essentialized and monolithic character as a system of domination.”

Prickly Pear 13
The Child in the City: a Case Study in Experimental Anthropology
Anna Grimshaw, Mark Harris, and Amanda Ravetz
“We set out to explore the dimensions of children’s lives in the modern city; but, as the pamphlet took shape, it became clear that questions of ethnographic knowledge, techniques and form were emerging as the dominant concerns.”