has several elements:
cover blurb for Animism: Respecting the Living World says:
if, far from being alone or unique, humanity shares this world with
a vibrant community of living beings (e.g., particular animals, birds,
plants, rocks, clouds)? How might we learn to communicate respectfully
with our other-than-human neighbours of ours?
Animism: Respecting the Living World enthusiastically engages
with indigenous and environmentalist spiritualities in which people
celebrate human relationships with significant other-than-human beings.
This new use of the term ‘animism’ applies to the religious
worldviews and lifeways of communities and cultures for which it is
important to inculcate and enhance appropriate ways to live respectfully
within the wider community of ‘persons’.
In his new book Graham Harvey discusses selected examples of these
religious cultures — such as Ojibwe, Maori, Aboriginal Australian
and eco-Pagan — to introduce the diversity of ways of being
animist, and to consider the linguistic, performative, ecological
and activist implications of these worldviews and lifeways. These
case studies are complemented by consideration of issues that arise
among animists. How, for example, do we distinguish between putative
animate persons and inanimate objects? What does death mean if everything
in the world is alive? What role do deities, creators, tricksters,
shamans, cannibals, totems and elders play in these religious traditions
and relationships? Here the book also touches on the ‘animist
realism’ of West African literatures, the ‘perspectivism’
of Amazonian shamans, and the relational ethics and leadership of
South and Central Asian communities.
The book engages with the implications of taking this new understanding
of animism seriously, arguing that animists and their understanding
of the world can contribute significantly to contemporary debates
about consciousness, cosmology and environmentalism. In addition,
it furthers on-going reconsideration of the colonialist ideologies
and methodologies that have caused many academics to exclude the term
‘animism’ from their critical vocabularies. The notions
that ‘animism’ is about a ‘beliefs in spirits’,
the attribution of life to inanimate objects or the projection of
human attributes on to ‘non-humans’ are rejected in favour
of a nuanced and positive evaluation of indigenous and environmentalist
understandings that the world would be a better place if humans celebrated
their relationships with all of life.
strengths of this book are its fluid and engaging ... writing; its
openly committed stand on the central question, i.e., whether or not
animals, plants, rivers, etc. are people, and its use of major ethnographic
sources as evidence, together with conversations with indigenous peoples."
Stewart Guthrie, Fordham University, author of Faces
in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion (Oxford
University Press, 1995)
"Harvey's insightful and balanced study challenges both earlier studies
of animism and more recent critics who argue that scholars should
throw out the term altogether. This is a fascinating and passionate
study of lifeworlds in which things are 'very much alive' and in which
relation to non-human others is considered central."
Sarah M. Pike, California State University, Chico, author
Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community
(University of California Press, 2001)
is an absorbing and important book: closely reasoned but eminently
readable, it is presented in short sections easily accessible to the
lay reader. It is a convincing document and essential reading for
nature lovers. If there is any justice, the world's academics will
sit up and take notice."
S.S. Hawke, in Touchstone: the journal of
the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, Issue 119, 2006.
recent author has emphasized [animism] or dealt with its implications
so thoroughly as Harvey"
D. Harms, SUNY-Cortland, in Choice, March 2006.
is a wonderful book. It is beautifully written and rigorously researched.
And it offers profound challenges both to academia - or certain versions
of it - and to the wider modernist worldview in which academic projects
are so often embedded."
Rawles, college lecturer and freelance outdoor
philosopher, in Resurgence's
Harveys Animism is an extremely useful guide to the complex and changing
terrain of its subject-matter. Combining clarity with passion and
some depth, it mobilizes insights from a wide range of disciplines:
anthropology, sociology, philosophy, religious studies and literary
Curry, University of Kent, in Journal of Contemporary
anticipate that Animism: Respecting the Living World will
quickly become a classic"
Wallis, Richmond University, London, and co-author with me
Dictionary of Shamanism (2007), in The
Pomegranate: the International Journal of Pagan Studies.
here for a review on the South Australian Pagan Alliance site
(which also includes a review of my Listening People, Speaking
Earth: Contemporary Paganism).
Since I cite some
websites in the book I thought it might be helpful to make them active
here. But rather than taking up a load of space here, the links are
For a .pdf version
of the Contents pages click
a quote from the book or the blurb in a Blankley Washington
Times op.ed piece that, I think, tries to use "animism"
and "neo-paganism" as slurs against Al Gore ...
And its repeated
Worldview ... and elsewhere!!
I've no idea what
to make of this ... so I won't ('though I have sent an email asking
what its all about - oh, and I forgot to tell Blankley that I'm not
at King Alfred's Winchester and my name isn't Mr Graham).
Much more positively,
my book is highly recommended in the excellent bioregional
animism blog site. (thanks!).