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Thin Places: A Pilgrimage Home
     

Thin Places: A Pilgrimage Home

by Ann Armbrecht
 

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Thin Places is an eloquent meditation on what it means to move between cultures and how one might finally come home, a particular paradox in a culture that lacks deep ties to the natural world. During the 1990s, Ann Armbrecht, an American anthropologist, made several trips to northeastern Nepal to research how the Yamphu Rai acquired, farmed, and held onto

Overview

Thin Places is an eloquent meditation on what it means to move between cultures and how one might finally come home, a particular paradox in a culture that lacks deep ties to the natural world. During the 1990s, Ann Armbrecht, an American anthropologist, made several trips to northeastern Nepal to research how the Yamphu Rai acquired, farmed, and held onto their land; how they perceived their area's recent designation as a national park and conservation area; and whether-as she believed-they held a wisdom about living on the earth that the industrialized West had forgotten.

What Armbrecht found instead were men and women who shared her restlessness, people also driven by the feeling that there must be more to life than they could find in their village. "We each blamed our dissatisfaction on something in the world," she writes, "not something in ourselves or in the stories we told ourselves about that world. If only we lived elsewhere, then we would be at home."

Charting Armbrecht's travels in the mountains of Nepal and in the United States and her disintegrating marriage back home, Thin Places is ultimately an exploration not of the sacred far-off but of the sacredness of places that are between-between the internal and external landscape, the self and others, and the self and the land. She finds that home is not a place where we arrive but a way of being in place, wherever that place may be. Along the way, Armbrecht explores the disconnections in our most intimate relationships, how they stem from the same disconnections that create our destruction of the land, and how one cannot be healed without attending to the other.

Editorial Reviews

Rutland Herald - Andrew Nemethy
This is a book you'll want to spend time with.

The Valley Reporter - Rob Williams
Armbrecht's vulnerability, wisdom and unflinching honesty at a time of great crisis for the West make this story one of the most important books of the last year.

Orion - David G. Campbell
Stirring on many levels - emotional, religious, physical, sensual.... Armbrecht's is a lovely and humble journey.

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute - Richard Whitecross
Engaging

Environmental Philosophy - Meg Mott
Armbrecht's honest prose is immediately life giving.

Rutland Herald
This is a book you'll want to spend time with.

— Andrew Nemethy

The Valley Reporter
Armbrecht's vulnerability, wisdom and unflinching honesty at a time of great crisis for the West make this story one of the most important books of the last year.

— Rob Williams

Orion
Stirring on many levels - emotional, religious, physical, sensual.... Armbrecht's is a lovely and humble journey.

— David G. Campbell

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Engaging

— Richard Whitecross

Environmental Philosophy
Armbrecht's honest prose is immediately life giving.

— Meg Mott

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231518291
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
12/29/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
296
File size:
2 MB

What People are Saying About This

Kirin Narayan
Recounting her search for 'thin places' of sacred connection, Ann Armbrecht's unflinching honesty and eye for luminous detail leads readers between locales and across received genres. Simultaneously a spiritual autobiography, a fieldwork memoir of village Nepal, a meditation on relations with land, the story of a complicated marriage, and more, this courageous book vividly shows how anthropologists' professional journeys are entwined with personal quests.

Robert Desjarlais
Thin Places's double-stranded discourse very subtly advances, in the same breath, reflections on our ties to others and to the environment. It becomes clear to the reader that both sets of relations imply similar efforts, challenges, and forms of communication, with a great deal at stake all around.

Terry Tempest Williams
Ann Armbrecht has written an intricate, smart, soulful story about the shape-shifting boundaries between culture and landscape; people and place. But Thin Places is much more than travel writing rooted in Nepal. It is a brave rendering of what happens when we allow our intellect to bow to our instincts and recognize love for what it is: a transformative pilgrimage requiring great courage and generosity of spirit, including forgiveness. We learn that integrity and intimacy with the land is in direct proportion to maintaining intimacy with each other. As an anthropologist, Armbrecht is trustworthy and revelatory in her patterned thinking. As a writer, she is an elegant and tempered voice exposing the truth of our relations.

Meet the Author

Ann Armbrecht is the author of Settlements of Hope: An Account of Tibetan Refugees in Nepal. She lives in Montpelier, Vermont, with her husband and two children.

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