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What Is Existential Anthropology?

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What Is Existential Anthropology?

Edited by Michael Jackson and Albert Piette

254 pages, 2 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-636-0 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (April 2015)

ISBN  978-1-78533-743-7 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (October 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78238-637-7 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook from these vendorsRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“Overall, this book offers fascinating insights into the potentialities of existential anthropology… it allows to step beyond some of the conceptions that have governed past edited collections in this field, without yielding to current fads in Anglophone anthropology.” · Sociologus

“In giving insight into the existential questions that arise from specific ‘moments of being’, this book will form a crucial point of departure for anyone who is interested in the continuously shifting conditions of human existence.” · Anthropology & Humanism

“…an important addition to current theoretical debates in anthropology about the human condition… The quality of contributions is consistently high and the writing style diverse… This present volume provides a strong challenge to recent trends and ‘turns’, and broadens the debate about the aims and future of anthropology.” · Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“This book… is – not despite but because of the theoretical tensions between Jackson and Piette – a highly recommendable collection of essays. The explicit and implicit ‘Auseinandersetzung’ between the founding fathers of existential anthropology qualifies the question raised by the title of the book and indicates a wider range of possibilities for existential anthropological analysis than either of the works published individually by the two frontrunners have hitherto accomplished.” · Anthropos

“This is a book whose time has come… Focusing on themes like contingency, the open-endedness of life projects, and the lived tension between emergent properties like security and freedom, existential anthropology attends to the human condition rather than just culture.” · Don Seeman, Emory University

“This is a very significant intervention in current debates about the aims and future of anthropology: the ethnography we are introduced to here is richly contemporary both in the kinds of methodological questions it raises and in terms of the status it gives to individual human experience. What is Existential Anthropology? marks out a strong challenge to recent fashionable 'turns' of theorizing.” · Huon Wardle, University of St Andrews


What is existential anthropology, and how would you define it? What has been gained by using existential perspectives in your fieldwork and writing? Editors Michael Jackson and Albert Piette each invited anthropologists on both sides of the Atlantic to address these questions and explore how various approaches to the human condition might be brought together on the levels of method and of theory. Both editors also bring their own perspective: while Jackson has drawn on phenomenology, deploying the concepts of intersubjectivity, lifeworld, experience, existential mobility, and event, Piette has drawn on Heidegger’s Dasein-analysis, and developed a phenomenographical method for the observation and description of human beings in their singularity and ever-changing situations.

Michael Jackson is Distinguished Professor of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School. He has done fieldwork among the Kuranko of Sierra Leone, the Warlpiri of Central Australia, the Kuku-Yalanji of Cape York Peninsula, and with African migrants in Europe. He is the author of over thirty books of ethnography, poetry, and fiction.

Albert Piette is Professor of Anthropology at Paris West University Nanterre and researcher at Centre for Ethnology and Comparative Sociology. In fieldwork, he has observed carnivals and festivals in Belgium, and quotidian life in Catholic parishes of France. He is author of over fifteen books in French about the epistemology and observation of details, religious phenomena, and rituals.

Subject: Theory and Methodology


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