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Life Within Limits


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Table of Contents

Imagining Firawa ix
Fathers and Sons 1
Forty Days 13
Scenes from a Marriage 30
Smoke and Mirrors 46
Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World 63
The Reopening of the Gate of Effort 77
Something's Missing 88
The Politics of Storytelling 100
The Road to Kabala 112
Their Eyes Were Watching God 122
Albitaiya 134
The Year of Supernatural Abundance 145
Strings Attached 158
The Shape of the Inconstruable Question 172
Not to Find One's Way in a City 187
Coda 199
Acknowledgments 201
Notes 203
Index 225

Promotional Information

Noted anthropologist Michael Jackson examines the problem of well-being and the question as to what makes life worthwhile

About the Author

Michael Jackson, Distinguished Visiting Professor in World Religions at Harvard Divinity School, is an award-winning poet, novelist, and anthropologist. His many books include The Palm at the End of the Mind, Excursions, In Sierra Leone, and At Home in the World, all also published by Duke University Press.


"Michael Jackson has done it again. This is a beautifully observed essay on human well-being and the ethnographic process. There is an elegant blending of ethnography, travel memoir, and philosophical reflection." Michael Lambek, author of The Weight of the Past: Living with History in Mahajanga, Madagascar "Life Within Limits is a book on Sierra Leonean realities, but it is also a work that tries to understand the human condition more generally. At its center is a trip to Sierra Leone, where Michael Jackson revisits the village where he did fieldwork almost forty years ago. Between the conversations in the 1970s and those of today falls a brutal civil war with immense human suffering, but also births and deaths, young people growing old, some dreams realized, others not. In its rare combination of accumulated knowledge and ongoing critical self-reflection, Life Within Limits is anthropological writing at its best."oSverker Finnstrom, author of Living with Bad Surroundings: War, History, and Everyday Moments in Northern Uganda

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