About the book

This page has several elements:


Contents pages (pdf file)
Cover blurb
Fame / infamy?
Links from the bibliography

Bioregional animism blog



The cover blurb for Animism: Respecting the Living World says:

What 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.

Reviewers have said:

"The 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 of Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community (University of California Press, 2001)

"This 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.

"no recent author has emphasized [animism] or dealt with its implications so thoroughly as Harvey"
— D. Harms, SUNY-Cortland, in Choice, March 2006.

"This 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."
Kate Rawles, college lecturer and freelance outdoor philosopher, in Resurgence's Bookshelf

"Graham Harvey’s 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 criticism."
Patrick Curry, University of Kent, in Journal of Contemporary Religion.

"I anticipate that Animism: Respecting the Living World will quickly become a classic"
— Robert Wallis, Richmond University, London, and co-author with me of Historical Dictionary of Shamanism (2007), in The Pomegranate: the International Journal of Pagan Studies.


Click 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 listed here.


Contents pages

For a .pdf version of the Contents pages click here.


Fame / infamy?

Strangely, there's 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 in Jewish 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!).







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