Academic journal article Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Rethinking Animism

Academic journal article Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Rethinking Animism

Article excerpt

Stringer concludes his article on animism (1999) by discussing, at some length, another study and my Faces in the clouds (1993). Unfortunately, he misrepresents what I say. Guthrie, he writes, thinks that animism is giving 'human personality to non-human objects' and that animism can be 'reduced only to those non-empirical entities that appear to have personality or other "human" attributes' (Stringer 1999: 551). That is, I equate animism with anthropomorphism.

Actually, I recommend clearly and repeatedly that these two terms not be equated.

Animism, I argue, is best defined as attributing characteristics of living things (e.g. sentience and spontaneous motion) to inanimate things and events, whereas, anthropomorphism is best defined as attributing characteristics of humanity (e.g. language and symbolism) to non-human things and events, including other animals. Among many instances, I write (1993: 39-40), 'we animate but do not anthropomorphize, for example, if we say that an automobile purrs like a kitten, and anthropomorphize but do not animate if we speak to our pet turtle'. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.