The Politics of Storytelling: Variations on a Theme by Hannah Arendt


“Michael Jackson’s The Politics of Storytelling is a radical book for our time.  I have never read a more compelling vision of how human beings creatively negotiate the borderlands between their private and public worlds.  Not since Clifford Geertz has an anthropologist written with such innovative narrative skill, reaching beyond the academy to illuminate what is culturally at stake in our needs to tell stories about the shared world we inhabit and remake.” Davíd Carrasco

“Our lives are for the most part unsayable, Jackson argues, yet we say them nonetheless, out of an existential imperative, in the company of others, and in the teeth of social horrors.  The practice of storytelling takes place in times and places in-between, as we struggle to make something new of the conditions that predetermine us.  Humans tell stories within webs of relationships, and Jackson gives a compelling account of how social worlds, intersubjective bonds, and individual subjectivities are made, unmade and remade in never-ending rounds of stories.  Especially powerful are his reflections on what becomes of storytelling at the edges of human endurance, when political crisis or natural disasters threaten to eviscerate language.  This is a beautiful book and an important piece of Jackson’s larger project of existential anthropology.” - Robert A. Orsi