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Jeanne Favret-Saada’s Minimal Ontology

Belief and Disbelief of Mystical Forces, Perilous Conditions, and the Opacity of Being

Theodoros Kyriakides

This article explores belief and disbelief in Jeanne Favret-Saada’s writings on witchcraft and connects them to the ontological turn in anthropology. The term ‘ontology’ carries a long philosophical trajectory, and its appropriation in anthropology

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Unsettling the Land

Indigeneity, Ontology, and Hybridity in Settler Colonialism

Paul Berne Burow, Samara Brock, and Michael R. Dove

What are the stakes of different ontologies of land in settler colonialism and Indigenous movements for decolonization and environmental justice? Settler colonialism describes a structure of exogenous domination in which Indigenous inhabitants of a

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Righting Names

The Importance of Native American Philosophies of Naming for Environmental Justice

Rebekah Sinclair

connected to a particular ontology that understands individuals as the fundamental units of reality and thus of ecology, biology, anthropology, politics, ethics, law, and so on. Why is this important for thinking about environmental management from an

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Archaeology and Animal Persons

Toward a Prehistory of Human-Animal Relations

Erica Hill

The discipline of archaeology has long engaged with animals in a utilitarian mode, constructing animals as objects to be hunted, manipulated, domesticated, and consumed. Only recently, in tandem with the rising interest in animals in the humanities and the development of interdisciplinary animal studies research, has archaeology begun to systematically engage with animals as subjects. This article describes some of the ways in which archaeologists are reconstructing human engagements with animals in the past, focusing on relational modes of interaction documented in many hunting and gathering societies. Among the most productive lines of evidence for human-animal relations in the past are animal burials and structured deposits of animal bones. These archaeological features provide material evidence for relational ontologies in which animals, like humans, were vested with sentience and agency.

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The Return of the Animists

Recent Studies of Amazonian Ontologies

Luiz Costa and Carlos Fausto

The ethnography of lowland South American societies has occupied a central place in recent debates concerning what has been called the 'ontological turn' in anthropology. The concepts of 'animism' and 'perspectivism', which have been revigorated through studies of Amerindian ontologies, figure increasingly in the ethnographies of non-Amerindian peoples and in anthropological theory more generally. This article traces the theoretical and empirical background of these concepts, beginning with the influence of Lévi-Strauss's work on the anthropology of Philippe Descola and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, and proceeding with their impact on Amazonian ethnography. It then investigates the problems that two alternative traditions—one combining a cognitivist with a pragmaticist approach, the other a phenomenological one—pose to recent studies of Amazonian ontologies that rely on the concepts of animism and perspectivism. The article concludes by considering how animism and perspectivism affect our descriptions of Amerindian society and politics, highlighting the new challenges that studies of Amerindian ontologies have begun to address.

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Cosmogony Today

Counter-Cosmogony, Perspectivism, and the Return of Anti-biblical Polemic

Michael W. Scott

In this article I review critical thought about cosmogony in the social sciences and explore the current status of this concept. The latter agenda entails three components. First, I argue that, even where cosmogony is not mentioned, contemporary anthropological projects that reject the essentialist ontology they ascribe to Western modernity in favor of analytical versions of relational non-dualism thereby posit a 'counter-cosmogony' of eternal relational becoming. Second, I show how Viveiros de Castro has made Amazonian cosmogonic myth—understood as counter-cosmogony—iconic of the relational non-dualist ontology he terms 'perspectival multinaturalism'. Observing that this counter-cosmogony now stands in opposition to biblical cosmogony, I conclude by considering the consequences for the study of cosmogony when it becomes a register of what it is about—when it becomes, that is, a form of polemical debate about competing models of cosmogony and the practical implications that they are perceived to entail.

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“Litigation Is Our Last Resort”

Addressing Uncertainty, Undone Science, and Bias in Court to Assert Indigenous Rights

Bindu Panikkar

. The application of diverse epistemic and ontological multiplicities is weak in science and law. This research looks into dominant epistemic paradigms—expertise barriers, scientific universalism, undone science, lack of representation—that contribute to

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Toying with Animism

How Learning to Play Might Help Us Get Serious About the Environment

Timothy Stacey

will require a loosening up of the boundaries between East and West, South and North, Abrahamic and animist that are over-reified by the use of divisive and exclusionary terms like “spirituality,” “religion,” “sacred,” and “ontology.” The use of such

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The Metrics of Making Ecosystem Services

Pamela McElwee

and Planning A 47 ( 9 ): 1787 – 1804 . doi:10.1068/a130275p . 10.1068/a130275p Cooper , Nigel , Emily Brady , Helen Steen , and Rosalind Bryce . 2016 . “ Aesthetic and Spiritual Values of Ecosystems: Recognising the Ontological and

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Materiality and Social Life

Theodore Schatzki

An important issue in contemporary social theory is how social thought can systematically take materiality into account. This article suggests that one way social theory can do so is by working with an ontology that treats materiality as part of society. The article presents one such ontology, according to which social phenomena consist in nexuses of human practices and material arrangements. This ontology (1) recognizes three ways materiality is part of social phenomena, (2) holds that most social phenomena are intercalated constellations of practices, technology, and materiality, and (3) opens up consideration of relations between practices and material arrangements. A brief practice-material history of the Kentucky Bluegrass region where the author resides illustrates the idea that social phenomena evince changing material configurations over time.