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    • April 2015
    • 9780231172356
  • 192 Pages

  • Paperback
  • $26.00
  • / £19.00

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    • April 2015
    • 9780231172349
  • 192 Pages

  • Hardcover
  • $85.00
  • / £63.00

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    • April 2015
    • 9780231539050
  • 192 Pages

  • E-book
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Harmattan

A Philosophical Fiction

Michael Jackson

We all experience qualms and anxieties when we move from the known to the unknown. Though our fulfillment in life may depend on testing limits, our faintheartedness is a reminder of our need for security and our awareness of the risks of venturing into alien worlds.

Evoking the hot, dust-filled Harmattan winds that blow from the Sahara to the Gulf of Guinea, this book creatively explores what it means to be buffeted by the unforeseen and the unknown. Celebrating the life-giving potential of people, places, and powers that lie beyond our established worlds, Harmattan connects existential vitality to the act of resisting prescribed customs and questioning received notions of truth. At the book's heart is the fictional story of Tom Lannon, a graduate student from Cambridge University, who remains ambivalent about pursuing a conventional life. After traveling to Sierra Leone in the aftermath of its devastating civil war, Tom meets a writer who helps him explore the possibilities of renewal. Illustrating the fact that certain aspects of human existence are common to all people regardless of culture and history, Harmattan remakes the distinction between home and world and the relationship between knowledge and life.

About the Author

Michael Jackson is Distinguished Professor of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School. He has done extensive ethnographic fieldwork among the Kuranko of Sierra Leone, the Warlpiri of Central Australia, the Kuku-Yalanji of Cape York Peninsula, and with African migrants in Europe. He is the author of more than thirty books on ethnography, poetry, and fiction, including the prize-winning Paths Toward a Clearing: Radical Empiricism and Ethnographic Inquiry and At Home in the World.

"A powerfully poetic contribution not just to anthropological knowledge but also to our comprehension of the human condition." — Paul Stoller, West Chester University

"Jackson's prose shows how for anthropology, thinking must take place in the most unlikely of circumstances: in the very midst of life's tumultuous course, through the very expression of its confounding vicissitudes." — Anand Pandian, Johns Hopkins University

"Harmattan is a remarkable inquiry into the intricate interweave between fact and fantasy, anthropological observation and imaginative fiction. In venturing ever further into the text, the reader is deliriously caught, like the book's narrators, in a multichambered realm of storytelling where life, death, friendship, and the elusiveness of truth are the most critical terms of existence." — Robert Desjarlais, Sarah Lawrence College

"Michael Jackson's fascinating new book travels the geographical, psychological, and political borderland of social life and 'the more' that lies beyond. Harmattan's characters are unforgettable: Ezekiel, surviving the civil war in Sierra Leone and migrating to the North and the halls of the British Library; Tom, an anthropologist's alter, making the reverse journey to the uncanny tranquility of Ezekiel's post-civil-war-ravaged village, Cosmega; the woman who was not undone by the wreckage; a Kuranko shaman finding his power and overcoming his fear; and an ethnographer encountering himself, or herself, as another, on the borderland where being is both lost and found. In the literary tradition of Calvino and Pessoa, Conrad and Tutuola, but also Victor Turner and Lévi-Strauss, Harmattan is a much-needed contribution toward the regeneration of anthropological thinking and writing." — Stefania Pandolfo, UC Berkeley

"A slim but thoughtful rendering of an exotic locale that recalls The Quiet American." — Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Michael Jackson is Distinguished Professor of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School. He has done extensive ethnographic fieldwork among the Kuranko of Sierra Leone, the Warlpiri of Central Australia, the Kuku-Yalanji of Cape York Peninsula, and with African migrants in Europe. He is the author of more than thirty books on ethnography, poetry, and fiction, including the prize-winning Paths Toward a Clearing: Radical Empiricism and Ethnographic Inquiry and At Home in the World.

1. Limitrophes
Show and Tell
A Place in the Bush
Allegories of the Wilderness
Within and Without Limits
The Top Five Regrets of the Dying
Life Is Elsewhere
Dark Soundings
On Not Being Rule Governed
Confronting One's Demons
Renata
Sentiments Limitrophes
The Faraway Tree
What Lies Beneath
Schrödinger's Cat
Notes
2. Harmattan
Stories Happen
Thousands Bay
Persona Non Grata
Tom Lannon's Story
Cosmega
Sangbamba
Ezekiel's Story
Petra's Letter
No Condition Is Permanent
The School
Morowa
Night
After Fieldwork
Mistral

About the Author

Michael Jackson is Distinguished Professor of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School. He has done extensive ethnographic fieldwork among the Kuranko of Sierra Leone, the Warlpiri of Central Australia, the Kuku-Yalanji of Cape York Peninsula, and with African migrants in Europe. He is the author of more than thirty books on ethnography, poetry, and fiction, including the prize-winning Paths Toward a Clearing: Radical Empiricism and Ethnographic Inquiry and At Home in the World.

About the Author

Michael Jackson is Distinguished Professor of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School. He has done extensive ethnographic fieldwork among the Kuranko of Sierra Leone, the Warlpiri of Central Australia, the Kuku-Yalanji of Cape York Peninsula, and with African migrants in Europe. He is the author of more than thirty books on ethnography, poetry, and fiction, including the prize-winning Paths Toward a Clearing: Radical Empiricism and Ethnographic Inquiry and At Home in the World.

About the Author

Michael Jackson is Distinguished Professor of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School. He has done extensive ethnographic fieldwork among the Kuranko of Sierra Leone, the Warlpiri of Central Australia, the Kuku-Yalanji of Cape York Peninsula, and with African migrants in Europe. He is the author of more than thirty books on ethnography, poetry, and fiction, including the prize-winning Paths Toward a Clearing: Radical Empiricism and Ethnographic Inquiry and At Home in the World.

About the Author

Michael Jackson is Distinguished Professor of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School. He has done extensive ethnographic fieldwork among the Kuranko of Sierra Leone, the Warlpiri of Central Australia, the Kuku-Yalanji of Cape York Peninsula, and with African migrants in Europe. He is the author of more than thirty books on ethnography, poetry, and fiction, including the prize-winning Paths Toward a Clearing: Radical Empiricism and Ethnographic Inquiry and At Home in the World.