Hannah Arendt argued that the 'political' is best understood as a power relation between private and public realms, and that storytelling is a vital bridge between these realms - a site where individualised passions and shared views are contested and recombined.
In this new editon, Michael Jackson explores and expands Arendt's ideas through a cross-cultural analysis of storytelling that includes Kuranko stories from Sierra Leone, Aboriginal stories of the stolen generation, stories recounted before the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and stories of refugees, renegades, and war veterans. Focusing on the violent and volatile conditions under which stories are and are not told, and exploring the various ways in which narrative reworkings of reality enable people to symbolically alter subject-object relations, Jackson shows how storytelling may restore to the intersubjective fields of self and other, self and state, self and cosmos, the conditions of viable sociality. The book concludes in a reflexive vein, exploring the interface between public discourse and private experience.
Michael Jackson is professor at the University of Harvard. He is the author of numerous books on anthropology, including the prize-winning Paths Toward a Clearing, At Home in the World and Minima Ethnographica. He is also the author of five books of poetry and two novels.
"Michael Jackson’s book is an engaging, complex, and insightful study of
narrative theory from an ethnographic, interactive perspective. This
expanded version of his earlier analysis of Iraqi and Somali refugee
narratives in New Zealand draws upon and develops Hannah Arendt’s
understanding of storytelling at the intersection of individual and
community. He sees narrative not as the production of an individual but as
an interaction that lives in the in-between space of the personal and the
collective [...] This is a book worth reading and re-reading; it serves as
a compelling account of the stories he recounts and describes and also as a
model of interactive narrative analysis.
Amy Shuman, Ohio State University, Journal of Folklore Research