I am grateful for the new animism, because it counts for something. Its importance cannot be overstated. It is a beginning, even without the history and aboriginal connection to this land. It says the human is searching and with a need to be in touch with this land, or other lands of origins in a time when the world is so achingly distressed.” (Linda Hogan – Page 22)
Animism is an important part of many religions – from Shinto, Hinduism and Buddhism to Paganism and a range of indigenous religions – which connects the spiritual and material and holds that humans might not be unique in possessing souls or in being intentional agents. Over recent decades, research into animism has broadened its scope to consider, at one end, the vibrant roles of objects in human lives and, at the other, the possible similarities between humans and other species. “The Handbook of Contemporary Animism” brings together an international team of scholars to examine the full range of animist worldviews and practices. The Handbook opens with an examination of recent approaches to animism. This is followed by evaluations of ethnographic, cognitive, literary, performative, and material culture approaches as well as advances in activist and indigenous thinking about animism. “The Handbook of Contemporary Animism” invites readers to think creatively and critically about the world around us and will be invaluable to students and scholars of Religion, Sociology and Anthropology.
This is a lot of book for your bucks; in fact it isn’t just a book it is the culmination of a project that set out to bring together as many of the leading thinkers and writers interested in different kinds of animism as possible.
Presented in 40 chapters over more than 500 pages, each writer debates animism from their own perspective; whether that be historical, ethnographic (indigenous culture), psychological, social or spiritual.
The debates question concerns about animals, plants, things or artifacts and ‘spirits’; especially human inter-species relationships and the ‘consciousness’ among or within them and matter itself.
Divided into seven main areas of inquiry and discussing concepts such as perspectivism, fetishism, shamanism, anthropomorphism, multinaturalism and ‘other-than-human-persons’. This is a book that truly has something for everyone.
By reading this book you will be listening to an ongoing debate. Animism has a vitality that challenges, again and again; making us question our identity, improve our understanding of who we are, learn better ways to ‘be human’ and ultimately better ways to live in the world.
The exciting thing is; this is just the beginning.