Life Under the Jolly Roger

Reflections on Golden Age Piracy

A fascinating study of the “golden age” pirates who roamed the seas between the Caribbean Islands and the Indian Ocean from 1690 to 1725.

Over the last couple of decades an ideological battle has raged over the political legacy and cultural symbolism of the “golden age” pirates who roamed the seas between the Caribbean Islands and the Indian Ocean from 1690 to 1725. They are depicted as romanticized villains on the one hand, and as genuine social rebels on the other. Life Under the Jolly Roger examines the political and cultural significance of these nomadic outlaws by relating historical accounts to a wide range of theoretical concepts – reaching from Marshall Sahlins and Pierre Clastres to Mao-Tse Tung and Eric J. Hobsbawm via Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault. The meanings of race, gender, sexuality and disability in golden age pirate communities are analyzed and contextualized, as are the pirates’ forms of organization, economy and ethics.

While providing an extensive catalog of scholarly references for the academic reader, this delightful and engaging study is directed at a wide audience and demands no other requirements than a love for pirates, daring theoretical speculation and passionate, yet respectful, inquiry.

“Life Under the Jolly Roger will appeal to anyone interested in pirates and radical practice. It brings the golden age of piracy to life and shows us the link to contemporary radical politics. I recommend this book to those who identify with pirates and seek a well-reasoned analysis of their legacy.” –Luis A. Fernandez, author of Policing Dissent

“Piracy is as relevant in today’s world as it ever was, and if you want to understand why it happens and what it really means, this is the book to start with. While modern-day robber barons give pirating a bad name, this important book restores the balance through a lively and provocative narrative. Definitely one to read, and to treasure!” –Randall Amster, professor of Peace Studies at Prescott College, Arizona

“It is rare to find a book that is not only entertaining, but broadens your knowledge as well. More rare even, a book that not only enhances your knowledge but also your perspective: this is the first time the subject of pirates has been analyzed using such a variety of theories, each of which lets you see history and its stories from a different angle. Even if you think you could never be interested in the history of pirates, take a look at this book and you will be.”
–Nora Räthzel, professor of Sociology at the University of Umeå, Sweden

Gabriel Kuhn (born in Innsbruck, Austria, 1972) lives as an independent author and translator in Stockholm, Sweden. He received a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Innsbruck in 1996, following a four-year semi-professional soccer career. His numerous publications include Women Pirates and the Politics of the Jolly Roger (with Ulrike Klausmann and Marion Meinzerin, 1997), the Alpine Anarchist pamphlet series, and the award-winning ‘Neuer Anarchismus’ in den USA: Seattle und die Folgen (2008). His publications with PM Press include the anthology Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge, and Radical Politics (2009) and the Gustav Landauer reader Revolution and other Writings (2009).

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