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Critique of Identity Thinking

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Critique of Identity Thinking

Michael Jackson

216 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-282-3 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (July 2019)

ISBN  978-1-80073-442-5 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (May 2022)

eISBN 978-1-78920-283-0 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook! $34.95info on epub formatRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“Through trenchant analysis and interplay of such thinkers as Hannah Arendt, Zora Neale Hurston, and Theodor Adorno, he exposes how these survivors of trauma unpack the complexity of identity formation, the act of identifying, and the tendency to use categories to control complicated human standpoints…This book could be useful for courses in anthropology, philosophy, contemporary literature, and sociology. – Recommended.” • Choice

“…a brilliant, masterful, and urgent book.” • Reading Religion

“It is Jackson’s unmatched ability to pay attention to the details of human life using seemingly mundane interactions as the basis for developing a philosophy of human existence that makes his work so compelling to read and think with. Throughout the book, Jackson shows that he is not just a master of existential dialectical thinking, but also of existential dialectical writing…As a growing number of anthropologists are attempting to make sense of the breakdown in trust and understanding that increasingly characterizes socio-political spaces across the world, Critique of Identity Thinking offers crucial theoretical and epistemological guidance in troubled times.” • Zeitschrift für Ethnologie

Critique of Identity Thinking contains a wisdom, which comes from a lifetime of reading, writing, and doing ethnography, and it is a reminder of the redemptive power of not distinguishing so clearly between biography and ethnography as well as between science and art.” • Conflict & Society

“The author is a master weaver. The tapestry he offers draws together many threads. Its colors are dusky and subdued. It is a dark work, the inspiration and provocation of which is the darkness of the times in which we presently live… a masterpiece.” • James Faubion, Rice University


Recent world-wide political developments have persuaded many people that we are again living in what Hannah Arendt called “dark times.” Jackson’s response to this age of uncertainty is to remind us how much experience falls outside the concepts and categories we habitually deploy in rendering life manageable and intelligible.  Drawing on such critical thinkers as Hannah Arendt, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, and Karl Jaspers, whose work was profoundly influenced by the catastrophes that overwhelmed the world in the middle of the last century, Jackson explores the transformative and redemptive power of marginalized voices in the contemporary conversation of humankind.

Michael Jackson is internationally renowned for his work in the field of existential anthropology. He is a leading figure in contemporary philosophical anthropology and widely praised for his innovations in ethnographic writing. Jackson has done extensive fieldwork in Sierra Leone since 1969, and has carried out anthropological research in Aboriginal Australia, Europe, and New Zealand.

Subject: Theory and MethodologyCultural Studies (General)


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