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At Home in the World Paperback – 18 Sep 2000

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"Jackson has succeeded in the thoroughly anthropological enterprise of splicing together the wisdom of thinkers in Asian, Euro-American, and Judeo-Christian traditions with ordinary folk wisdom and wise statements of not-so-ordinary Walbiri. In his hands, all these strands converge on a timeless and highly contemporary, insistent, and essentially unanswerable question." - Paul Friedrich, American Ethnologist "Jackson provides qualitative ethnographic research and studies of 'home' with a model to be emulated. He casts his net wide and captures lived experience as well as words can harvest." - Paul Benson, Anthropology and Humanism "[An] important, exquisitely crafted book... notable for its innovative ethnography, philosophic acumen, and intricate portrayal of an aboriginal people." - Robert Desjarlais, American Anthropologist "[A] thoughtful study ... [A] kind of ethno-poetic essay about belonging and being uprooted in the contemporary world." - F. Allan Hanson, Cultural Survival Quarterly

About the Author

Michael Jackson is College Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University. He is the author of many books of poetry, fiction, and anthropology, including, most recently, "Paths Toward a Clearing: Radical Empiricism and Ethnographic Inquiry" and "Pieces of Music," a novel.

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This book is about the experience of home. Read the first page
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By John D. Daniels - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Michael Jackson is an Ethnographer/Anthropologist who is of the school which searches for similarities rather than differences among cultures, to look at the full range of our humanity in dealing with various situations.
This book describes the second year of a three year study of a group of Walbiri people of Australia. This particular group has had all of their usual nomadic places encroached on by civilization. In addition, the earlier unwittingly harmful effect of the Australian government's attempt to "civilize" the indigenous people is discussed.
Michael Jackson uses this study to focus on what is meant by "home" and "homelessness" on many levels, from the present world-wide migrations to his past personal choice of careers in escaping New Zealand (a place many of us would to go to).
In addition to being a very well-traveled and professionally accomplished scholar, Michael Jackson has also published fiction and poetry. Consequently this book is also a Thoreau-like attempt to fuse Art and Science.
The concepts of home and homelessness are mapped out for us to understand and apply to our own situations. But the only solutions to any problems arising there, lie in the compassion and human-heartedness that show throughout this author's writing.
Each chapter stars with an apt quotation. My favorite is a toss-up between a Roman proverb from Chapter 2: "ubi bene, ibi patria"-translated as-"Your home is where they treat you well", and a Walbiri saying from Chapter 4:"A house is a good thing. You can lock it up and go live anywhere you like"--Walter Pukatiwara.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
All Over the Map 14 April 2009
By Ellen Ross Stuart - Published on
Format: Paperback
A very intriguing and beautifully written book, if at times lacking in context and clarity. Then again, a little bit of muddle does seem fitting on a subject so dense, and a narrative as multi-faceted as the dreaming.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Tantalizing prospect, in the end a frustrating read 13 Jan. 2008
By Doula66 - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book came highly recommended by some of the best phenomenological anthropologists in the field, so I looked forward to reading it with great anticipation. Though Jackson is a fine writer, the work was ultimately a disappointment, especially because he had clearly done so much top-quality fieldwork with the Warlpiri people and the question of what it means to be at home in the world.

It seemed to me that his radical adherence to bare-bones narrative flow - the book reads more like a travel novel than an ethnographic work - while admirable in its attempt to present the lived experience of this Aboriginal community, actually undermines his purpose by concealing more than it reveals. He uses Warlpiri terms, italicized, with no gloss or glossary; he introduces the fascinating kinship structure and then lets it drop without explaining to the non-Aboriginal reader what this might mean to their experience of social relations; he speaks extensively of the role of the Dreaming in their conceptions of home, without an introduction for the reader who does not know what the Dreaming is, or worse, already has some essentialized, stereotyped notion in mind.

In sum, he has made the first half of the hermeneutic journey to the experience of the other, perhaps more successfully than many other ethnographers; but he then fails to complete the return journey home by translating his find into a recognizable idiom.
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