Michael D. Jackson Named Visiting Professor of World Religions


The acclaimed anthropologist Michael D. Jackson has accepted an appointment to the Faculty of Divinity as Visiting Professor of World Religions. Professor Jackson, currently on the faculty at the Institute of Anthropology of the University of Copenhagen, will assume his post at HDS on July 1, 2005.

"We are extremely lucky to have attracted Professor Jackson to the Divinity School," said Dean William A. Graham in announcing the appointment. "We believe he will be the kind of colleague who will naturally engage in inter-faculty work across the University, especially helping HDS to fashion even stronger ties with the social-science departments."

Before teaching at Copenhagen, Professor Jackson was College Professor at Indiana University from 1988 to 1996, and he taught earlier in his native New Zealand and in Australia. He has degrees from Victoria University and the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and received his doctorate from Cambridge University.

He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Sierra Leone (1969-70, 1972, 1979, 1983, 2002, 2003) and Aboriginal Australia (1990, 1991, 1994, 1997). The author of numerous books of anthropology, including the prize-winning Paths Toward a Clearing and At Home in the World, he has also published five books of poetry and two novels. His book In Sierra Leone has just been published in the United States by Duke University Press, and another book, Existential Anthropology, is to be published by Berghahn next fall.

"I am very excited at the prospect of teaching at Harvard Divinity School," said Professor Jackson. "My goals are to help introduce ethnographic methods to research in religion, to explore ways in which we can update and enlarge our understanding of life worlds and worldviews outside the world's text-based religions, to demonstrate the relevance of such intellectual traditions as empiricism, radical empiricism, existentialism, and phenomenology to the study of religion, and to build bridges between religious studies and the social sciences. 

"My current research and writing is situated at the interface of fieldwork-based anthropology, continental philosophy, and religious studies," he continued. "I expect to draw inspiration and find new directions for this work from my colleagues and students at HDS."