Harmattan: A Philosophical Fiction


Harmattan upturns and revolts against the deepest and most pernicious prejudices of academic writing.  Jackson’s prose shows how, for anthropology, thinking takes place in the midst of life’s tumultuous course, through the expression of its confounding vicissitudes.” - Anand Pand, Johns Hopkins University

Harmattan is a remarkable inquiry into the intricate interweave between fact and fantasy, anthropological observation and imaginative fiction. In progressing ever further into the text, the reader is deliriously caught, like the book's narrators, in a multi-chambered realm of storytelling, where life, death, friendship, and the elusiveness of truth are the most critical terms of existence. With Michael Jackson's Harmattan anthropology finally has its Conrad, its Heart of Darkness.” - Robert Desjarlais, Sarah Lawrence College

“A powerful poetic contribution not just to anthropological knowledge but also to our comprehension of the human condition.”  - Paul Stoller, West Chester University

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