James C. Scott (born December 2, 1936) is an American political scientist and anthropologist. He is a comparative scholar of agrarian and non-state societies, subaltern politics, and anarchism. His primary research has centered on peasants of Southeast Asia and their strategies of resistance to various forms of domination. The New York Times described his research as "highly influential and idiosyncratic".Scott received his bachelor's degree from Williams College and his MA and PhD in political science from Yale. He taught at the University of Wisconsin–Madison until 1976 and has remained at Yale for the duration of his career. At Yale he is Sterling Professor of Political Science and has directed the Program in Agrarian Studies since 1991. He lives in Durham, Connecticut, where he once raised sheep.
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Beautiful things grow out of shit. Nobody ever believes that. Everyone thinks that Beethoven had his string quartets completely in his head—they somehow appeared there and formed in his head—and all he had to do was write them down and they would be manifest to the world. But what I think is so interesting, and would really be a lesson that everybody should learn, is that things come out of nothing. Things evolve out of nothing. You know, the tiniest seed in the right situation turns into the most beautiful forest. And then the most promising seed in the wrong situation turns into nothing. I think this would be important for people to understand, because it gives people confidence in their own lives to know that's how things work. If you walk around with the idea that there are some people who are so gifted—they have these wonderful things in their head but and you're not one of them, you're just sort of a normal person, you could never do anything like that—then you live a different kind of life. You could have another kind of life where you could say, well, I know that things come from nothing very much, start from unpromising beginnings, and I'm an unpromising beginning, and I could start something.