Skip to main content

Distributed for Museum Tusculanum Press

The Politics of Storytelling

Variations on a Theme by Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt famously argued that politics are best understood as a power relationship between private and public realms. And storytelling, she argued, creates a vital bridge between these realms, a place where individual passions and shared perspectives can be contested and interwoven. In The Politics of Storytelling—revised in this 2nd edition with a new preface and design—anthropologist Michael Jackson explores and expands on Arendt’s notions, bringing stories from all around the world into impressive cross-cultural analysis.  
Jackson retells stories from the Kuranko in Sierra Leone, the Australian Aboriginals, and the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission—by refugees, renegades, and war veterans. Focusing on the violent and volatile conditions under which stories are told—or silenced—he explores the power of narrative to remake reality, enabling people to symbolically alter their relations and help reclaim an existential viability. Above all, he shows how Arendt’s writings on narrative deepen our understanding of the critical, therapeutic, and politic role of storytelling, that it is one of the crucial ways by which we understand one another.  

312 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2013

Critical Anthropology

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Museum Tusculanum Press image

View all books from Museum Tusculanum Press


“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 need to tell stories about the shared worlds we inhabit and remake.”

Davíd Carrasco, author of City of Sacrifice: The Aztec Empire and the Role of Vi

“A book that delivers to the reader, in graceful and at times evocative prose, profound insights into the human condition with all its vexing contradictions. Jackson has written a powerful testimony to the human spirit.”

Journal of Anthropological Research

Table of Contents

Preface to Second Edition

Part I - Displacements
The Stories that Shadow Us
"You Never Saw Your Own Faces": Reflections on Privacy and Publicity in the Lives of Refugees
In Extremis: Refugee Stories/Refugee Lives
Displacement, Suffering, and the Critique of Cultural Fundamentalism
Part II -  Returns
Retaliation and Reconciliation
From the Tragic to the Comic
Prevented Successions
Part III -  Histories
The Social Life of Stories
Storytelling and Critique
The Singular and the Shared


Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press