Layla AbdelRahim

Last updated
Layla AbdelRahim
Layla AbdelRahim in Sebastopol, May 2006.jpg
AbdelRahim in Sebastopol in May 2006
Alma mater

Layla AbdelRahim is a Canadian comparatist anthropologist and anarchoprimitivist author, whose works on narratives of civilization and wilderness have contributed to the fields of literary and cultural studies, comparative literature, philosophy, animal studies, ecophilosophy, sociology, anarcho-primitivist thought, anarchism, epistemology, and critique of civilization, technology, and education. [1] [2] She attributes the collapse in the diversity of bio-systems and environmental degradation to monoculturalism and the civilized ontology that explains existence in terms of anthropocentric utilitarian functions. [3]


Her books Children’s Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation: Narratives of Civilization and Wilderness (Routledge 2015) and Wild Children – Domesticated Dreams: Civilization and the Birth of Education [4] (Fernwood 2013) make a contribution to children’s literary theory and a critique of education as rooted in the civilized need for the domestication of children as resources. [5]


AbdelRahim received her A.B. from Bryn Mawr College and, upon graduation in 1993, received the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to pursue an anthropological project in Europe. She did graduate work in 1993-94 at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (École des hautes études en sciences sociales) or l'EHESS and master studies in social sciences at Stockholm University where she later worked as Visiting Researcher at the department of social anthropology. She completed her Ph.D. at the Université de Montréal, Department of Comparative Literature. Her dissertation entitled Order and the Literary Rendering of Chaos: Children’s Literature as Knowledge, Culture, and Social Foundation, examines the effect of ontological premises on human self-knowledge (anthropology) and the repercussions of such knowledge on the anthropogenic destruction of the world’s life systems and diversity. [6]


AbdelRahim traces the root of all oppression to the ontological premises of domestication that define the raison d'être of living and non-living beings in terms of consumption and co-existence in a hierarchy of food chain. [7] Drawing on paleontological studies, ethology, and biological anthropology, she challenges the precepts in the narrative of anthropology that constructs the human as predator and consumer. This critique extends to civilized economic and socio-political cultures and their effect on the environment as well as on systems of education and parenting. [8] [9] [10] [11] Her examination of civilized and wild narratives is relevant to a variety of domains and disciplines, such as philosophy of science, evolutionary theory, anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, environmental economics, education, literary theory.

Media appearances

AbdelRahim is featured in anOther Story of Progress, a documentary film by Thomas Toivonen, as one of the world's leading contemporary anarcho-primitivist philosophers. [12]

Selected works



Related Research Articles

Civilization Complex state society

A civilization or civilisation is any complex society characterized by urban development, social stratification imposed by a cultural elite, symbolic systems of communication, and a perceived separation from and domination over the natural environment.

Anarcho-communism, also referred to as anarchist communism, communist anarchism, free communism, libertarian communism and stateless communism, is a political philosophy and anarchist school of thought which advocates the abolition of the state, capitalism, wage labour and private property in favor of common ownership of the means of production, direct democracy, and a horizontal network of workers' councils with production and consumption based on the guiding principle "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs". Some forms of anarcho-communism such as insurrectionary anarchism are strongly influenced by egoism and radical individualism, believing anarcho-communism to be the best social system for the realization of individual freedom. Most anarcho-communists view anarcho-communism as a way of reconciling the opposition between the individual and society.

Anarcho-primitivism form of anarchism

Anarcho-primitivism is an anarchist critique of the origins and progress of civilization. According to anarcho-primitivism, the shift from hunter-gatherer to agricultural subsistence gave rise to social stratification, coercion, alienation, and overpopulation. Anarcho-primitivists advocate a return to non-"civilized" ways of life through deindustrialization, abolition of the division of labor or specialization, and abandonment of large-scale organization technologies. Many traditional anarchists reject the critique of civilization while some, such as Wolfi Landstreicher, endorse the critique but do not consider themselves anarcho-primitivists. Anarcho-primitivists are often distinguished by their focus on the praxis of achieving a feral state of being through "rewilding".

Green anarchism, or eco-anarchism, is a political philosophy and anarchist schools of thought that puts a particular emphasis on environmental issues. A green anarchist theory is normally one that extends anarchism beyond a critique of human interactions and includes a critique of the interactions between humans and non-humans as well. This often culminates in an anarchist revolutionary praxis that is not merely dedicated to human liberation, but also to some form of nonhuman liberation and that aims to bring about an environmentally sustainable anarchist society.

John Zerzan American anarchist and primitivist philosopher and author

John Zerzan is an American anarchist and primitivist ecophilosopher and author. His works criticize agricultural civilization as inherently oppressive, and advocates drawing upon the ways of life of hunter-gatherers as an inspiration for what a free society should look like. Some subjects of his criticism include domestication, language, symbolic thought and the concept of time.

Snufkin character in the Moomin series

Snufkin is a character in the Moomin series of books authored by Swedish-speaking Finn Tove Jansson, appearing in six of the nine books. He is the best friend of the series' protagonist, Moomintroll, and lives a nomadic lifestyle, only staying in Moominvalley in the spring and summer, but leaving for warmer climates down south every winter. He is the son of the elder Mymble and the Joxter, and is half-brother to the Mymble's daughter and Little My.

Species Traitor is a sporadically published journal of insurrectionary anarcho-primitivism. It is printed as a project of Black and Green Network and edited by anarcho-primitivist writer, Kevin Tucker.

Primitivism art movement

Primitivism is a mode of aesthetic idealization that either emulates or aspires to recreate "primitive" experience. In Western art, primitivism typically has borrowed from non-Western or prehistoric people perceived to be "primitive", such as Paul Gauguin's inclusion of Tahitian motifs in paintings and ceramics. Borrowings from "primitive" or non-Western art has been important to the development of modern art. Primitivism has often been critiqued for reproducing the racist stereotypes about non-European peoples used by Europeans to justify colonial conquest.

Criticism of technology is an analysis of adverse impacts of industrial and digital technologies. It is argued that, in all advanced industrial societies, technology becomes a means of domination, control, and exploitation, or more generally something which threatens the survival of humanity. Some of the technology opposed by critics includes everyday household products, such as refrigerators, computers, and medication.

The following is a list of terms specific to anarchists. Anarchism is a political and social movement which advocates voluntary association in opposition to authoritarianism and hierarchy.

<i>Future Primitive and Other Essays</i> book by John Zerzan

Future Primitive and Other Essays is a collection of essays by anarcho-primitivist philosopher John Zerzan published by Autonomedia in 1994. The book became the subject of increasing interest after Zerzan and his beliefs rose to fame in the aftermath of the trial of fellow thinker Theodore Kaczynski and the 1999 anti-WTO protests in Seattle. It was republished in 1996 by Semiotext(e), and has since been translated into French (1998), Turkish (2000), Spanish (2001), and Catalan (2002). As is the case with Zerzan's previous collection of essays, Elements of Refusal, Future Primitive is regarded by Anarcho-Primitivists and technophobes as an underground classic.

Rewilding means to return to a more wild or natural state; it is the process of undoing domestication. The term emerged from green anarchism and anarcho-primitivism. The central argument is that the majority of humans have been "civilized" or "domesticated" by agrarianism and sedentary social stratification. Such a process is compared to how dogs have been domesticated from what was a common ancestor with wolves, resulting in a loss in health and vibrancy. Supporters of rewilding argue that through the process of domestication, human wildness has been altered by force.

Rewilding (conservation biology) conservation aimed at restoring natural processes and reintroducing apex predators and keystone species

Rewilding is large-scale conservation aimed at restoring and protecting natural processes and core wilderness areas, providing connectivity between such areas, and protecting or reintroducing apex predators and keystone species. Rewilding projects may require ecological restoration or wilderness engineering, particularly to restore connectivity between fragmented protected areas, and reintroduction of predators and keystone species where extirpated. The ultimate goal of rewilding efforts is to create ecosystems requiring passive management by limiting human control of ecosystems. Successful long term rewilding projects should be considered to have little to no human-based ecological management, as successful reintroduction of keystone species creates a self-regulatory and self-sustaining stable ecosystem, with near pre-human levels of biodiversity.

Deep ecology Ecological and environmental philosophy

Deep ecology is an ecological and environmental philosophy promoting the inherent worth of living beings regardless of their instrumental utility to human needs, plus a restructuring of modern human societies in accordance with such ideas.

Anarcho-naturism appeared in the late 19th century as the union of anarchist and naturist philosophies. In many of the alternative communities established in Britain in the early 1900s, "nudism, anarchism, vegetarianism and free love were accepted as part of a politically radical way of life". In the 1920s, the inhabitants of the anarchist community at Whiteway, near Stroud in Gloucestershire, "shocked the conservative residents of the area with their shameless nudity". Mainly, it had importance within individualist anarchist circles in Spain, France, Portugal and Cuba.

Kevin Tucker is an anarcho-primitivist writer and speaker who lives in rural Pennsylvania. He is the editor of Species Traitor, an insurrectionary anarcho-primitivist journal, an editor and contributor to Green Anarchy magazine, and co-founder of the Black and Green Network. Black and Green Press and FC Press put out a book of Tucker's writings in April 2010 called For Wildness and Anarchy

Anarchy State of a society being without a governing body

Anarchy is the state of a society being freely constituted without authorities or a governing body. It may also refer to a society or group of people that totally rejects a set hierarchy.

Post-left anarchy is a recent current in anarchist thought that promotes a critique of anarchism's relationship to traditional leftism. Some post-leftists seek to escape the confines of ideology in general while also presenting a critique of organizations and morality. Influenced by the work of Max Stirner and by the Situationist International, post-left anarchy is marked by a focus on social insurrection and a diminution of leftist social organisation.

Anarchism is the political philosophy which holds ruling classes and the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority and hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations.


  1. Routledge. "Children's Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation: Narratives of Civilization and Wilderness (Hardback)". Routledge. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  2. ""Primitivism" 101". Deep Green Philly. 2011-05-05. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  3. "Interview with Layla AbdelRahim". In the Land of the Living. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  4. The book launch during "La journée contre la civilisation" at La Déferle (May 19, 2013) Archived 2014-04-19 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Routledge. "Children's Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation: Narratives of Civilization and Wilderness (Hardback)". Routledge. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  6. "PAPYRUS - Université de Montréal: Order and the literary rendering of chaos : children's literature as knowledge, order, and social foundation". 2011-11-03. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  7. miltsovorg. "Layla AbdelRahim - How Ivan the Fool Defeats Civilized Pedagogies". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  8. "Coop média de Montréal | Journalisme indépendant". Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  9. "Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World (Layla AbdelRahim)". The Anarchist Library. 2010-01-21. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  10. "Beyond the Symbolic and towards the Collapse (Layla AbdelRahim)". The Anarchist Library. 2009-08-18. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  11. "Domestication, aliénation et civilisation (Layla AbdelRahim)". Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  12. "anOther Story Of Progress | Watch Documentary Online Free". Documentary Heaven. Retrieved 2012-10-01.