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Technological Animism

The Uncanny Personhood of Humanoid Machines

Kathleen Richardson

How should animism be understood in the early twenty-first century? From Tylor’s description in Primitive Culture ( [1871] 1920 ) to Bird-David’s (1999) critique of it as the ‘failed epistemology’ model of animism, anthropologists have shifted

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The Art of Capture

Hidden Jokes and the Reinvention of Animistic Ontologies in Southwest China

Katherine Swancutt

Anthropologists have typically viewed animism as a cosmology in which every being has a soul or ‘vital essence’. While animism has undergone many theoretical metamorphoses since anthropology’s early days, radically outstripping Edward B. Tylor

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The Algebra of Souls

Ontological Multiplicity and the Transformation of Animism in Southwest China

Mireille Mazard

transformation of the person, reflects the poly-ontological character of Nusu animism, which I explore in this article. For Lañi and other Nusu participants in the research encounter, it is echoed in a further ontological divide, between themselves and the

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Introduction

Anthropological Knowledge Making, the Reflexive Feedback Loop, and Conceptualizations of the Soul

Katherine Swancutt and Mireille Mazard

anthropology today. Our point of departure is ‘animism’, the locus classicus of anthropological theory. We situate our inquiry at the crossroads of ‘native’ and ‘non-native’ scholarship on animism and the soul, exploring how indigenous thinkers have adopted

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Rane Willerslev

How do we take indigenous animism seriously in the sense proposed by Viveiros de Castro? In this article, I pose this challenge to all the major theories of animism, stretching from Tylor and Durkheim, over Lévi-Strauss to Ingold. I then go on to draw a comparison between Žižek's depiction of the cynical milieu of advanced capitalism in which ideology as “false consciousness” has lost force and the Siberian Yukaghirs for whom ridiculing the spirits is integral to their game of hunting. Both know that, in their activity, they are following an illusion, but still they go along with it; both are ironically self-conscious about not taking the ruling ethos at face value. This makes me suggest an alternative: perhaps it is time for anthropology not to take indigenous animism too seriously.

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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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Jonathan Woolley and R. Aída Hernández

Animism and the Question of Life (Istvan Praet, 2013)

New Approaches to Resistance in Brazil and Mexico (John Gledhill and Patience A. Schell, eds, 2012)

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Claudia Weiss, Wie Sibirien “unser” wurde. Die Russische Geographische Gesellschaft und ihr Einfluss auf die Bilder und Vorstellungen von Sibirien im 19. Jahrhundert. Kristina Kuentzel-Witt

Niobe Thompson, Settlers on the Edge: Identity and Modernization on Russia’s Arctic Frontier Patty A. Gray

Susan A. Crate, Cows, Kin, and Globalization: An Ethnography of Sustainability John P. Ziker

Athol Yates and Nicholas Zvegintzov, Siberian BAM Guide: Rail, Rivers & Road David Lempert

Rane Willerslev, Soul Hunters: Hunting, Animism and Personhood among the Siberian Yukahgirs Joseph Long

Books Received for Review

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Nicole Gombay, Making a Living: Place, Food and Economy in an Inuit Community Amber Lincoln

Marc Brightman, Vanessa Elisa Grotti, and Olga Ulturgasheva, eds., Animism in Rainforest and Tundra: Personhood, Animals, Plants and Things in Contemporary Amazonia and Siberia Michael A. Uzendoski

Sonja Luehrmann, Secularism Soviet Style: Teaching Atheism and Religion in a Volga Republic Mark Calder

Tanya Argounova-Low, The Politics of Nationalism in the Republic of Sakha (Northeastern Siberia), 1900-2000: Ethnic Conflicts under the Soviet Regime Anna Bara

Sarah Mehlop Strong, Ainu Spirits Singing: The Living World of Chiri Yukie's Ainu Shin'y sh César Enrique Giraldo Herrera

Olga M. Cooke, ed., Gulag Studies, Volume 1 Norman Prell

Anne Ross, Kathleen Pickering Sherman, Jeffrey G. Snodgrass, Henry D. Delcore, and Richard Sherman, Indigenous Peoples and the Collaborative Stewardship of Nature: Knowledge Binds and Institutional Conflicts Jan Peter Laurens Loovers

Anatoly M. Khazanov and Günther Schlee, eds., Who Owns the Stock? Collective and Multiple Property Rights in Animals (vol. 5) Germain Meulemans

Books Available for Review

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Rane Willerslev

This exciting special issue sets out to take the ‘anthropology of ontology’ (also called the ‘ontological turn’), along with its concern for indigenous animism, to a new level of analysis by pairing it with key issues originally raised by