At Home in the World

At Home in the World

Book Pages: 202 Illustrations: 3 maps Published: March 1995

Author: Michael Jackson

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Geography

Ours is a century of uprootedness, with fewer and fewer people living out their lives where they are born. At such a time, in such a world, what does it mean to be "at home?" Perhaps among a nomadic people, for whom dwelling is not synonymous with being housed and settled, the search for an answer to this question might lead to a new way of thinking about home and homelessness, exile and belonging. At Home in the World is the story of just such a search. Intermittently over a period of three years Michael Jackson lived, worked, and traveled extensively in Central Australia. This book chronicles his experience among the Warlpiri of the Tanami Desert.
Something of a nomad himself, having lived in New Zealand, Sierra Leone, England, France, Australia, and the United States, Jackson is deft at capturing the ambiguities of home as a lived experience among the Warlpiri. Blending narrative ethnography, empirical research, philosophy, and poetry, he focuses on the existential meaning of being at home in the world. Here home becomes a metaphor for the intimate relationship between the part of the world a person calls "self" and the part of the world called "other." To speak of "at-homeness," Jackson suggests, implies that people everywhere try to strike a balance between closure and openness, between acting and being acted upon, between acquiescing in the given and choosing their own fate. His book is an exhilarating journey into this existential struggle, responsive at every turn to the political questions of equity and justice that such a struggle entails.
A moving depiction of an aboriginal culture at once at home and in exile, and a personal meditation on the practice of ethnography and the meaning of home in our increasingly rootless age, At Home in the World is a timely reflection on how, in defining home, we continue to define ourselves.


“[A] thoughtful study . . . [A] kind of ethno-poetic essay about belonging and being uprooted in the contemporary world.” — F. Allan Hanson, Cultural Survival Quarterly

“[An] important, exquisitely crafted book. . . notable for its innovative ethnography, philosophic acumen, and intricate portrayal of an aboriginal people.” — Robert Desjarlais, American Anthropologist

“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


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

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.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

At Home in the World 1

Postscript 173

Notes 177
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Honorable Mention in the category of book prize for a senior scholar, American Ethnological Society

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2538-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1561-2
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