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A village in Sierra Leone. A refugee trail over the Pyrenees in French Catalonia. A historic copper mine in Sweden. The Shuf mountains in Lebanon. The Swiss Alps. The heart of the West African diaspora in southeast London. The anthropologist Michael Jackson makes his sojourns to each of these far-flung locations, and to his native New Zealand, occasions for exploring the contradictions and predicaments of social existence. He calls his explorations "excursions" not only because each involved breaking with settled routines and certainties, but because the image of an excursion suggests that thought is always on the way, the thinker a journeyman whose views are perpetually tested by encounters with others. Throughout Excursions, Jackson emphasizes the need for preconceptions and conventional mindsets to be replaced by the kind of open-minded critical engagement with the world that is the hallmark of cultural anthropology. Focusing on the struggles and quandaries of everyday life, Jackson touches on matters at the core of anthropology--the state, violence, exile and belonging, labor, indigenous rights, narrative, power, home, and history. He is particularly interested in the gaps that characterize human existence, such as those between insularity and openness, between the things over which we have some control and the things over which we have none, and between ourselves and others as we talk past each other, missing each others' meanings. Urging a recognition of the limits to which human existence can be explained in terms of cause and effect, he suggests that knowing why things happen may ultimately be less important than trying to understand how people endure in the face of hardship.
We all suffer 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.Rich with the reflections of a renowned scholar who has worked extensively in many cultures and countries, Harmattan creatively imagines the experience of embracing 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 heart of the book 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 the country's 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 their culture and history, Harmattan remakes the distinction between home and world and the relationship between knowledge and life.
Honoring the Child Spirit is an inspirational, emotional, and prescriptive book that calls upon each of us to recognize and honor the openness, creativity, innocence, and awe of children--and to tap into and pay tribute to the childlike spirit that lies at the heart of us all. Adulthood, according to the late Michael Jackson, is not the be all and end all of growing up and living a worthwhile life. With society's high expectations placed upon maturity and responsibility, we often shut down our curiosity, sense of play, and deep sensitivity. And with this shutting down, we too often fail to recognize and cherish that spirit in our own children--and the world's children--so that they can thrive and flourish as children. With evocative chapters on the childlike qualities most important to Michael Jackson--from Awe and Wonder, Creativity, and Gratitude to Imagination and Security--this heartfelt book gives voice to the eternity of Michael's spirit and how he should be remembered: as someone who tried to live by these childlike qualities. Though far from perfect, it was this attempt to sustain innocence amidst the trappings of fame that became his life's goal.
In 2002, as Sierra Leone prepared to announce the end of its brutal civil war, the distinguished anthropologist, poet, and novelist Michael Jackson returned to the country where he had intermittently lived and worked as an ethnographer since 1969. While his initial concern was to help his old friend Sewa Bockarie (S. B. ) Marah--a prominent figure in Sierra Leonean politics--write his autobiography, Jackson's experiences during his stay led him to create a more complex work: In Sierra Leone, a beautifully rendered mosaic integrating S. B. 's moving stories with personal reflections, ethnographic digressions, and meditations on history and violence. Though the Revolutionary United Front (R. U. F. ) ostensibly fought its war (1991-2002) against corrupt government, the people of Sierra Leone were its victims. By the time the war was over, more than fifty thousand were dead, thousands more had been maimed, and over one million were displaced. Jackson relates the stories of political leaders and ordinary people trying to salvage their lives and livelihoods in the aftermath of cataclysmic violence. Combining these with his own knowledge of African folklore, history, and politics and with S. B. 's bittersweet memories--of his family's rich heritage, his imprisonment as a political detainee, and his position in several of Sierra Leone's post-independence governments--Jackson has created a work of elegiac, literary, and philosophical power.
Covers the early years of Michael Jackson's life with the Jackson5 and The Jacksons, as well as his solo career.
In this book, ethnographer and poet Michael Jackson addresses the interplay between modes of writing, modes of understanding, and modes of being in the world. Drawing on literary, anthropological and autobiographical sources, he explores writing as a technics akin to ritual, oral storytelling, magic and meditation, that enables us to reach beyond the limits of everyday life and forge virtual relationships and imagined communities. Although Maurice Blanchot wrote of the impossibility of writing, the passion and paradox of literature lies in its attempt to achieve the impossible--a leap of faith that calls to mind the mystic's dark night of the soul, unrequited love, nostalgic or utopian longing, and the ethnographer's attempt to know the world from the standpoint of others, to put himself or herself in their place. Every writer, whether of ethnography, poetry, or fiction, imagines that his or her own experiences echo the experiences of others, and that despite the need for isolation and silence his or her work consummates a relationship with them.
In many societies and for many people, religiosity is only incidentally connected with texts or theologies, church or mosque, temple or monastery. Drawing on a lifetime of ethnographic work among people for whom religion is not principally a matter of faith, doctrine, or definition, Michael Jackson turns his attention to those situations in life where we come up against the limits of language, our strength, and our knowledge, yet are sometimes thrown open to new ways of understanding our being-in-the-world, to new ways of connecting with others. Through sixty-one beautifully crafted essays based on sojourns in Europe, West Africa, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, and taking his cue from Wallace Stevens's late poem, "Of Mere Being," Jackson explores a range of experiences where "the palm at the end of the mind" stands "beyond thought," on "the edge of space," "a foreign song. " Moments of crisis as well as everyday experiences in cafs, airports, and offices disclose the subtle ways in which a single life shades into others, the boundaries between cultures become blurred, fate unfolds through genealogical time, elective affinities make their appearance, and different values contend.
A definitive guide to the world's best brews (in 1982). Info on brewing techniques and ingredients, and advice on taste, texture and body.
The Wherewithal of Life engages with current developments in the anthropology of ethics and migration studies to explore in empirical depth and detail the life experiences of three young men - a Ugandan migrant in Copenhagen, a Burkina Faso migrant in Amsterdam, and a Mexican migrant in Boston - in ways that significantly broaden our understanding of the existential situations and ethical dilemmas of those migrating from the global south. Michael Jackson offers the first biographically based phenomenological account of migration and mobility, providing new insights into the various motives, tactics, dilemmas, dreams, and disappointments that characterize contemporary migration. It is argued that the quandaries of African or Mexican migrants are not unique to people moving between 'traditional' and 'modern' worlds. While more intensely felt by the young, seeking to find a way out of a world of limited opportunity and circumscribed values, the experiences of transition are familiar to us all, whatever our age, gender, ethnicity or social status - namely, the impossibility of calculating what one may lose in leaving a settled life or home place; what one may gain by risking oneself in an alien environment; the difficulty of striking a balance between personal fulfillment and the moral claims of kinship; and the struggle to know the difference between 'concrete' and 'abstract' utopias (the first reasonable and worth pursuing; the second hopelessly unattainable).
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