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“Overall, this book offers fascinating insights into the potentialities of existential anthropology… it allows to step beyond some of the conceptions that have governed past edited collections in this field, without yielding to current fads in Anglophone anthropology.”· Sociologus
“In giving insight into the existential questions that arise from specific ‘moments of being’, this book will form a crucial point of departure for anyone who is interested in the continuously shifting conditions of human existence.”· Anthropology & Humanism
“…an important addition to current theoretical debates in anthropology about the human condition… The quality of contributions is consistently high and the writing style diverse… This present volume provides a strong challenge to recent trends and ‘turns’, and broadens the debate about the aims and future of anthropology.”· Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
“This book… is – not despite but because of the theoretical tensions between Jackson and Piette – a highly recommendable collection of essays. The explicit and implicit ‘Auseinandersetzung’ between the founding fathers of existential anthropology qualifies the question raised by the title of the book and indicates a wider range of possibilities for existential anthropological analysis than either of the works published individually by the two frontrunners have hitherto accomplished.”· Anthropos
“This is a book whose time has come… Focusing on themes like contingency, the open-endedness of life projects, and the lived tension between emergent properties like security and freedom, existential anthropology attends to the human condition rather than just culture.”· Don Seeman, Emory University
“This is a very significant intervention in current debates about the aims and future of anthropology: the ethnography we are introduced to here is richly contemporary both in the kinds of methodological questions it raises and in terms of the status it gives to individual human experience. What is Existential Anthropology? marks out a strong challenge to recent fashionable 'turns' of theorizing.”· Huon Wardle, University of St Andrews
What is existential anthropology, and how would you define it? What has been gained by using existential perspectives in your fieldwork and writing? Editors Michael Jackson and Albert Piette each invited anthropologists on both sides of the Atlantic to address these questions and explore how various approaches to the human condition might be brought together on the levels of method and of theory. Both editors also bring their own perspective: while Jackson has drawn on phenomenology, deploying the concepts of intersubjectivity, lifeworld, experience, existential mobility, and event, Piette has drawn on Heidegger’s Dasein-analysis, and developed a phenomenographical method for the observation and description of human beings in their singularity and ever-changing situations.
Subject: Theory & Methodology in Anthropology
Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2013
Anthropology must deploy a double perspective that encompasses particular situations – local, familial, and personal – and general conditions – global, national, cosmopolitan, historical, and human.
Michael Jackson’s Lifeworlds is a masterful collection of essays, the culmination of a career aimed at understanding the relationship between anthropology and philosophy. Seeking the truths that are found in the interstices between examiner and examined, world and word, and body and mind, and taking inspiration from James, Dewey, Arendt, Husserl, Sartre, Camus, and, especially, Merleau-Ponty, Jackson creates in these chapters a distinctive anthropological pursuit of existential inquiry. More important, he buttresses this philosophical approach with committed empirical research.
Traveling from the Kuranko in Sierra Leone to the Maori in New Zealand to the Warlpiri in Australia, Jackson argues that anthropological subjects continually negotiate—imaginatively, practically, and politically—their relations with the forces surrounding them and the resources they find in themselves or in solidarity with significant others. At the same time that they mirror facets of the larger world, they also help shape it. Stitching the themes, peoples, and locales of these essays into a sustained argument for a philosophical anthropology that focuses on the places between, Jackson offers a pragmatic understanding of how people act to make their lives more viable, to grasp the elusive, to counteract external powers, and to turn abstract possibilities into embodied truths.