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"Animism" Revisited: Personhood, Environment, and Relational Epistemology [and Comments and Reply] Author(s): Nurit Bird-David, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Alf Hornborg, Tim Ingold, Brian Morris, Gisli Palsson, Laura M. Rival, Alan R. Sandstrom Source: Current Anthropology, Vol. 40, Supplement: Special Issue: Culture. A Second Chance? (Feb., 1999), pp. S67-S91 Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2991332 Accessed: 14/08/2010 10:00
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Volume 40, Supplement, FebruaryI999 ANTHROPOLOGY CURRENT All reserved OOII-3204/99/40supp-0002$3.00 ? I999 byThe Wenner-Gren for Research. rights Foundation Anthropological
and Environment, Personhood, Epistemology1 Relational by NuritBird-David
in and as "Animism"is projected theliterature simplereligion a becauseit has hitherto to failedepistemology, a largeextent In perspectives. thispaperprevious modernist been viewedfrom An are from classicalto recent, critiqued. ethnographic theories, how anipeopleis givento explore exampleofa hunter-gatherer with of withinthe context social practices, misticideas operate and of personhood to attention local constructions a relational to of withecologicalperceptions the environment. its relationship is epistemology as A reformulation their of animism a relational offered.
Whereverthereare Nayaka, thereare also devaru, for Nayaka want to have them and always findthem.
in at is SeniorLecturer Social Anthropology BIRD-DAVID Haifa3I905, Israel). theUniversity Haifa(MountCarmel, of of at Bornin I 95I, she was educated HebrewUniversity Jerusalem (B.A., I974) and at Cambridge University (Ph.D., I983). She
FelFellowofNew Hall and SmutzVisiting has been Research Her and at low at Cambridge a lecturer Tel AvivUniversity. pub(CURRENT ANTHROlicationsinclude"The GivingEnvironment" Affluent Society':A 'The Original "Beyond POLOGY 3I:I89-96), Reformulation" Culturalist (CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY 33:.25-47), Roles and Implicit Organization: "Hunter-Gatherers' Kinship edited E. Goody(Camby and Rules,"in Intelligence Interaction, A Press,I995), and "Economies: University Cambridge bridge: Social Science Cultural-Economic (International Perspective" 9 JournalI54:463-75). The present paperwas submitted Ix 97 office reached Editor's the and accepted5 xII 97; thefinalversion i6 I 98.
and Jordt her penetrating for insights to I. I am indebted Ingrid comments, some instructive I commentary.thankTim Ingoldfor withpleasure work.I acknowledge ofwhichwill await follow-up culture Tylorto an appointment Readerin Anled as by offered KalmanAppl- 2. Primitive generously on comments earlierdrafts in suchposition theacain the University, first Eva baum,Debbi Bernstein, Illouz,SteveKaplan,YoramCarmeli, thropology Oxford demicworld(PreusI 9 8 7: I 3 IJ. Nira Reiss,and Zvi Sobel. S67
The concept of animism, which E. B. Tylor developed PrimitiveCulture,is one ofanin his I87I masterwork The inearliest concepts,if not the first.2 thropology's tellectual genealogyof centraldebates in the fieldgoes textbookscontinue to introback to it. Anthropology duce it as a basic notion,forexample,as "the beliefthat inside ordinaryvisible, tangible bodies there is normally invisible,normallyintangiblebeing: the soul ... each culture [having]its own distinctiveanimistic beings and its own specific elaboration of the soul concept" (Harris i983:i86). Encyclopediasof anthropology commonlypresentit, forinstance,as "religiousbeliefs to of involvingthe attribution lifeor divinity such natural phenomena as trees, thunder,or celestial bodies" (Hunter and Whitten I976:1i2). The notion is widely employed within the general language of ethnology (e.g.,Sahlins I972:I66, i8o; Gudeman I986:44; Descola in i996:88) and has become important otheracademic disciplines as well, especially in studies of religion(as and beliefin spirit-beings) in developmentalpsychology to (referring children's tendencyto consider thingsas living and conscious). Moreover,the word has become a part of the generalEnglishvocabularyand is used in and in the popularmedia. It apconversations everyday pears in many dictionaries,includingsuch elementary ones as the compact school and officeedition of Webster'sNew WorldDictionary(i989), which definesit as "the beliefthat all life is producedby a spiritualforce, or that all natural phenomena have souls." It is found in mainstreamcompendiasuch as the Dictionaryofthe Social Sciences (Gould and Kolb i965), which sums it up as "the belief in the existence of a separable soulpotentiallydistinctand apartfromany concrete entity, embodimentin a living individual or material organism." The term is presentedin dictionariesof the occult: the Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits (Guilei of defines as "the system beliefs it forexample, i992), about souls and spiritstypicallyfound in tribal societies," and the Dictionary of Mysticismand the Occult (Drury i985) definesit as "the belief,common among societies, that trees,mountains,rivmany pre-literate ers and othernatural formations possess an animating power or spirit." Tylorianconcept appears Amazingly,the century-old in all these diversesources (popularand academic, general and specific) revised little if at all. Animism, a reof representation an ethnographically igth-century searchablepracticeparticularly conspicuous among indigenous peoples but by no means limited to them,is The depicted by them all as an "object" in-the-world. is survivalof the Tylorianrepresentation enigmaticbe-
Durkheim the of (i 7 Equally surprisingly. Research was supported a SmutzVisiting by Fellowcola (i996:82).For ethnographic background Bird-David(i989. However. I argue that devaru are dividual persons. Levi-Strauss (I962. see tems"but does notlook deeply intoanimism such.nomenon.Nayaka with aspects of theirenvironment. The more the or a mistaken strategic guess. in a threefold rentpersonhoodtheory(asserting thatpersonhooddoes manner. "modernist self-concepts"will gold (i992). termis used in its old Tylor-ian sense. and "natural/supernatural"modernist dichotomies This paper attemptsa solution generallydrawingon that have oftenlanded otherethnographers "spirit.the more Tylor's historicallysituated analysis of the phenomenonwhich Tylor termed"aniperspective is taken as "real.) The argument will develop to be (see IngoldI986:94-96.First. Behavior. M.Furthermore. Leopoldi980).Countries. In turn.4 edge but at best a partoftheirsymbolicrepresentations A twofoldvicious cycle has ensued. Second. Fieldwork conducted I978-79 andwas followed a rewas in by visitin I989. vidual" (a person constitutiveof relationships)." as the phenomenon mism" largelydrawnfrommy work with hunter-gathwhich it only glosses.varu (superpersons) tackled as a concept and a pheare chotomouslyof a physicalworld and humans) and cur.after These dualistic conceptionsare historicalconstructs of Marriott's (I976) "dividual" (a person constitutiveof a specificculturewhich.Further. PovinelliI993."and "supernatural beings" read theiridea of selfinto others!This led the theoreti(e. as i996). I positthatin another sense devaruare a be used as an objectification what is oftenonlya frag. using Strathern's (i988) notionofthe "dinot necessarilyconsist dualisticallyofbody and spirit). born of the ment ofpeoples' compositeidentity. anthropology's success in through ethnographic the material.both composite and complex.g. ship. I966 [i962]).andfunds the from Jerusalem the Foundation Anthropological for is (ig60).peoples" while assertingthat the "primitivepeoples" egories"religion.stance). Nayaka dethat the environmentdoes not necessarily consist di. Yet the concept still term)relevantto animism to date. of parts of it lor was not as rigida positivistas he is oftenmade out Western identities. MorrisI98I. The devaru tific"but ideas and practicesthat dominatedthe Euro.5 A case is developed itself"(Wagneri98 I). It is arguedthatpositivisticideas about the signifier/signified "animism"-has remained a the meaningof"nature. Howell I984.plex phenomena which Tylor denoted as "animism. rogatory images of indigenouspeople whose rehabilita. a liminalexception Guthrie's recent revisit for (I993).It will posit a pluin directoppositionto materialistscience. At the same time. Ty. H. Bird. An exception coming close to revisiting notionis Hallowell ship. Tylorpositedthat"animists" under.cal concepts. and researchableculturalpracticeswhich Tylor denotedby Guthrie(I993).""life."affordances" events in-the-world. It is regarded "one oftheoldestanthropological puzzles"byDes- . too. Anthony an Wilkin Studentship. and under The first partoffers criticalperspectiveon the "texa the influenceof i9th-century evolutionismhe read into tual conversation"(to use Gudeman and Rivera's [I990] this cognitiveunderdevelopment." stood the world childishlyand erroneously. i996) contrasts "totemicsystems"and "animic sys.starting from Hallouniversalizingthe use of the termitselfreinforces de.well's remarkable I960 "Ojibwa Ontology. a of Nayaka's "attensciousness.Ethnographers continue to cast freshethno. natural objects as empiricallyunfounded and consei99i.forwant of a betterterm.will transferable particlesthatformhis or her personal subhenceforth referred by the circumlocution"mod. attention theories Tylor 958 [I 87 ]). to The perspecscience yielded"true" knowledgeofthe world.digenous identities and.theyhave commonly quently to direct analytical effort explaining why to avoided the issue of animism and even the termitself people did it and why and how (againstall appearances) rather thanrevisitthisprevalentnotionin lightoftheir their "belief" was not a part of theirpractical knowlnew and rich ethnographies.S68 I CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY Volume 40.Classical theoreticians is argued)attrib(it graphicmaterialfarricherthanTylorhad (orcould have uted their own modernistideas of self to "primitive imaginedpossible) into one or more ofthe Tyloriancat. They be to ernist." and "personhood"misof puzzle3 despite the greatinterestwhich the subject has directedthese previous attemptsto understandthe loattracted." in a synthesis of currentenvironmenttheory (insisting "supernatural.are objectificationsof these relationships and make Americanculturallandscape fromthe I7th to the 20th them known.singlingout forclose pervasivelypersists. i9i5). throughthree subsequent sections to its twofoldconhe developed this representation within a positivistic clusion: a fresh visit to the animism concept and to the spiritual/materialist dichotomyof igth-century design indigenousphenomena themselves.FebruaryI999 cause the logic underlying is today questionable.Studies and the HorovitzInstitute Researchof Developing cola (i992. Gardner Feit I994.""spirits. 3. in partial ways.withoutbenefit of The second part of the paper offers ethnographic an criticalrevision. Supplement. while "local person-concepts" will be used tion" ecologically perceives mutually responsive as an objectification fragments today's complexinof of 5." and "religion"descriptions.EndicottI979.tive to be employedis presentednot as more valid than more. Des. and as a "symbol that stands for erer Nayaka in South India..constitutive of partof Nayaka's environment. RichesI994).cians to prejudge the attributionof "personhood" to David I990. in the belief rality of epistemologiesby refiguring so-called primi(and as part of an effort prove this belief) that only tive animism as a relationalepistemology. ethnographic the referent-the (I96o[I9I4]." ("Modernist" signals eitherthe dichotomous are constitutiveof sharingrelationshipsreproducedby opposite of "primitive" nor the equivalent of "scien. on drawing Gibson(I979) andIncentury. Chadwick an Student4.the moral implicationsof this representation are any otherbut as one now needed in studies of the comunacceptablenow.and WorldView" and circumventing "spirit/body" the tion fromthem is one of its popular roles. partoftheircon.
it is upon this model of hu.he con.. Lastly. in the same way that he regardedthe spiritualseances of his time as a delusion. and time trying (StockingI971). (talking. In put movement. like an particularmentalityof the primitive. with a natureanalogous to his own. arguing. the animate and the inanicannot distinguish infant." Tylorread into the primitive classicaltheory vivedtheterm from (Tylor I958 [I87I]: of 9). quoted by Stocking i987:I92) acquired only fromreading.and these beliefs had "survived" into the time's ethnography theory. the I7th-century alchemist Stahl. Tylor's work was probablyalso influencedby obser.who suggestedthatmodernrei866 and I870 that culminated in Primitive Culture. Tylor arguedthat in the savage view everyman had. Being "a confirmed i987:i92). himself and those around him.and mineral alike.mankindhad spent the restof evolutionary the tualism is a survival and a revival of savage thought" to rectify error"(Stockingi987:I92). thefounding with the child state too."Tylorsuggested . Now theprimitive even inanihe also is inclinedto endow all things.against. anistructedthe originof "savage thought"fromhis first.He even consideredusing tionaryterms(as was the custom at the time) how the the term"spiritualism"ratherthan "animism" but de. This argument probably In Tylor's view. This epistemology is regardedby Nayaka (and probablyother indigenous as peoples we call hunter-gatherers) authoritative against otherways of knowingthe world. "it was interestin the modernspiritualist able at the time.were fundamentallyantithetical. animism and science (in a "longI97I:90). He argued vations of children (see Stocking I97I:o that the "savages" were doubly mistaken. man naturethat he tends to thinkof everything. These relatednesses are devaru in-theworld. Drawing on secondhand accounts of "primitive" spiritualistunderstanding "one's own nature."which he had waged contest" [i886].These performances pivotal in both "educatingthe attention" are (Gibson I979) and reproducing to devaru in-the-world devaru as dividual persons.limited by the them early peoples had tried to explain the world to and and it should be studied themselves. Tylor suggestedthat this view was a delusion. who clinched the case by explainingin evolunant-modern spiritualism.and asking for advice and help)-are social experiences which are nested within (not dichotomizedfrom)social-economicpractice. modernsect" (I958 [I87 I]:Io).mistic beliefs featuredas "wrong" ideas according to hand knowledge of what he presumed was its rem.Tylor'sview. The thirdpartof the paper theorizesanimism as anianimism constimisms.as thoughprimitiveman."a "thin unsubstantialhuman image. It functions with." At issue at the timewas how religionhad evolved and to life many of them attributed and personality animal. in an attemptto create sciset for a month to investigate spiritualist seances ence." capable "of leaving the bodyfarbehind" and "continuingto exist and appearto men afterthe death of that body" (quoted in Stocking scientific rationalist"(p. Tylor's view conformedwith the contemporaneous of identification earlypeople with the child state of soof ciety(animatingsociety!)and with the identification Animism in the ModernistMirror "primitives"with earlypeople and so contemporaneous thatin faBurnett SirEdward Tylor(I83 I-I9I7). However. Consequently. the world.Tylor observedthat the primitive'sor the child's sense of "his own nature." the "cause oflifeor thought in the individual it animates. temology is about knowing the world by focusing froma relatedpoint ofview. Consequently.sharing or just demand-sharing. in additionto his body." not peoples (to use the period's term). Durkheim (I9I5:53) neatlymade the point as follows: For Tylor.believingin their own "ghost-souls" but like children attributing the same to thingsaround them.while arguing like a child the primitive "endow[s] all things. (quotedin Stocking influencedhis view of "savage thought. horizons of the relatedviewer. He developed a theoryof how it oughtto be relatedto science. who had himselfre.met by Nayaka as theyact in.BIRD-DAVID "Animism" RevisitedI S69 and changes in thingsin-the-world at the same time in themselves. Since the first mences to have an idea are men. vegetable. mate ones.fashion.Tylortook an and "primitive"people and in certainmoderncults.singing.Tylor. Diversifying vironmentalpraxis. By Tylor offereda situated perspective.In an odd reversal. present and (re)appeareduniversally among children in its context. as one ofhis commentators it.even inanimate ones. thinkslike a child. joking. ratherthan think about. of As he developedhis theory animism. arguingthat hunter-gatherer This epistutes a relational(not a failed)epistemology. took his notion of animism from thinking therof anthropology. In I869 he arguedthat "modern spiri. on primarily relatednesses. He even went to London fromSomer.and in othercontexts(includingWestern) epistemolsometimes despite otherlocal authoritative and enalong with person-concepts ogies. had accidentally created religion instead. beings of which the child commate. that is. ligion had evolved in stages fromanimistic beliefs..a "ghost-soul.this extensionof animism was due to the who. I argue that devaru perforin mances-in which performers trance"bringto life" socialize withwhom theparticipants devarucharacters. This evolutionary this phenomenonin a series of papers writtenbetween question engagedTylor. with a nature analogous to his view the modernist own.primitivecame to have this spiritualistsense of his thatdreamsofdead relacided againstit because it had "become the designation "own nature. Under the of a particular probableinfluenceof his knowledgeof modernspiritualism. i9i). The within the shifting knowinggrowsfromand is the knower'sskills ofmaintainingrelatednesswith the known. animisms are engenderedneither by confusionnor by wrongguesses but by the employment of human socially biased cognitiveskills.
like the engineer(i966 [I962]). DNA. in univerhis view.which "really" existed.I993: 86-89. turalcategory He views animistic thinkingas a natural "perceptual for strategy" the survivalof any animal (pp. My examples chronologically advance from Emile Durkheim's work on religion (I960 [19I4]. He criticizedearliertheory placing indigenous peoples on the "nature" side of the dualistic nature/culturesplit.along with Tylor. He did not explain animismbut explainedit away." and "human" as naturallygiven. but in doing so he emin broiled himselffurther the modernistself model(s). However. too.." artithe and totems. with Tylor) as the erroneous mental operationof a child." His work provided the firstmodern explanation that accepted indigenous knowledge of the world. Some ofthese proveillusory. He himself obviously mistook their kinship forhis modernist constructionof it as shared biological matter (flesh." regressing modernist vance made by Levi-Strauss. of its attribution to otherthan human entities. I966 [I962]) to a recentwork on anby thropomorphism StewartGuthrie (I993). II2-I3). Animists by his theorydid not perceive the natural world fromothers. differently A recent attempt at a solution to the century-old problemwhy people animate what we regardas inanimate objects is that of StewartGuthrie(I993).P.blood. and fortunes(pp. The thesis projectedthe primitiveas delirious as well as perceivingthe world like a child. selfmodel credencein the primitive Durkheimrestored but remained critical. argued that the primitive self model is "not a vain in conceptthatis withoutfoundations remythological ality" (p. was a specificcase of this (modernist) sal model.Levi-Straussargued.It was pivotal in its time. tions. 54. Tylor's theoryhas had deep and lasting influenceon anthropologicaltheory.he arguedthat theymistook the spiritualunityof the totemicforce." regarded friends kin. TQP4Ali between natural entities. he placed the dualistic split itselfinside their"savage mind" (I966 [I962]). like the brithese representations coleur. Durkheim also read his own modernist(biologistic) kinship into accounts suggestingthat "primitivepeoples" regardedas kin and friendssome entities that were animated by them." "nonliving. Levi-Straussdid not question the auwhich thority the Westernobjectivistview ofreality. necessarilycentrality in the field)fromclassic theoriesto recentones. In an articlesignificantly entitled"The Dualism ofHuhe man Nature and Its Social Conditions" (I960 [I9I4]).FebruaryI999 Claude Levi-Strauss addressed the anthropological category "totemism.He still cast this attribution(again. then they used nature as "something good to thinkwith" about societal divisions. of dualism.fora bodily unity of flesh.When theydo. and shared characteristics i58-6o). but their "totemic thought" fancifullyintermingled with mysticaltales. we are animating life (attributing to the nonliving)or anthropomorphizhuman characteristicsto the nonhuing (attributing life man)" (I993:62).Guthrieregards meanings of such notions as "life. point to one criticaltheoreticaltrendpertinent to my studyby means of several examples (senot lected fortemporaldiversity. 38. Supplement. while he correctively placed themon the "culture" side.They drew analogies between things in nature and groups in society (I962). I9I5) through Claude Levi-Strauss'swork on totemismand the "savage mind" (I962. 47. The expression"attributing to the nonliving"at a strokerelegatesanimisticbeliefsto the fromthe earlier adcategoryof "mistake. To rehaaccepted a priorithe nature/society bilitate the Durkheimian primitiveshe arguedthat indigenous peoples perceivedthe world in this way. Drawing on richer ethnographicsourcesthanTylor's. beto thatit is difficult differentiate in support his argument of tweentheseentities.and "group as in of worshipped celebrafactualrepresentations naturalentities.that"in everyage" man had had a duala from basic and universalsocial istic model originating the experience." which encompasses aspects of the phenomenonwhich Tylor termed"animism. 6i): discussesthe boundaries "life"/"nonliv7. The inwith natural digenousaccounts ofkinshiprelationships entities.who defines animating thingsin these words: "Scanning the worldforwhat most concernsus-living thingsand especially humans-we findmany apparentcases. between nature and They perceived the discontinuity society and viewed nature itselfas a world of discrete objects. 4I.7 as Guthriereduceswhat Tyloroffered a universalcul(Preus I987) to a universalbiological one. or whateverother finerbiological connection will be discoveredby scientists [Schneider TCO(.only evinced the analogical and totemicnatureof theirthought-neitheran erroneous epistemologynor an adequate alternativeto for our own. tives and of the primitivehimselfin distantplaces had led him to formthis selfidea.S701 CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY Volume 40.6 To explain this. Guthrie perceptively drawnacross as ing" and "human"/"animal" theyare diversely buthe makesthisobservation cultures (e. The primitiveself model. pendence. the explanation rested on dissociatingthat knowledge fromtotemic notions. However. . simultaneoussense ofbodilysensations and being part of society. whereas our "scientific thought" logically sortedthem out. He arguedthat the primitivemakes abstract societytangibleto himselfby a totem and so views his own self as dualistically consisting of body/totemic parts (ratherthan body/mindin the modernistview). Durkheim distinguished totems.which did not. and subsequent theories developed in dialectical relations with it in turnbecame themselvesinfluentialtheories theorieswere in dialectical relationswithwhich further I formulated. reducingthe latter to symbolic representations. Durkheim rescued the primitivefromthe Tylorian image of a delirious human. They concernedthemselveswith the same representationsof thingsin the world as Westernersdid. "individual or 6.he notedthat"primitives" believed thatthebonds betweenthemand these natural entitieswere "like those which unite the membersof a interdesingle family"(I 9I 5:I 39): bonds of friendship.g. 329).
" The Ojibwa of certainty and of good perceptualstrategy." "animal person. namely. and Shwederand LeVine 9.then..Roman. into the "person" as a cross-cultural to regardtheirstudyanimals as objects. Guthrie focuses whathe calls "theWest"because"animism Carrithers." discoveronly afterthe fact-is the price of our need "wind person. with [it]is an inevitableresultof normal perceptualun"person" being a subcategory "human. socialscience. range from French Spanishcave artthrough io. oftheir contexts.animals.winds.. literature advertisement. sense far enough. On the seems ingeniouslysimple. and Lukes (i985). See Endicott but (ig8i)."His scantreferences "sim. thought.etc. "dailylife ii.and medievalphilosophy the artsto modern valleys. and.pointsforour reassessmentoftheoriesofanimism. Descola and and in thecontemporary UnitedStates." At worst. pernaturalbeings" (mirrofing Westernidea of nathe ture)" is an appropriateEnglish equivalent.I12.. to takenout (i984). The lattertakes the axiomatic split beby animals rangingat least fromfrogs people. Neither "spirits" (derivingfrom the spirit/ the theoryeven regressesfromthe advances made by bodydualism ofthe modernist nor person-concept) "suTylor. experienceitThis cognitive evolutionist explanation of animism self does not rule out Ojibwa animistic ideas..sons" (personswith extra powers)as a generalreference raphyof the Ojibwa (fromfieldwork conducted in the Lake Winnipeg area of northernCanada during the see I985).Halis pretationby bettingon the most significant possibil.and WorldView" (i960) are provocativestarting strategy to assume that it is . but notions and practicesare erroneous. a hunter-gatherer communityof the forested mistic interpretationsas mistakes) they culturally Gir Valley in the Nilgiriregionof South India.. are subcategories. Feit I994]). contrary received wisdom to and in the absence of objectivistdogma. 8. ity . to ple societies"drawnoton thericher new ethnography on out." etc.regardthem as category hardlyexisted.dogma.8 We concepts and second fromthe presumptionthat these lapse into animistic expressionsunderuncertainty. Feit (I994).(i996).Echoing Evansto discoverliving organisms. riskingover-inter.cars we love.the case we use such expressionsmore..the best havior. is fundamentally different fromthe sults froma simple formof game theoryemployed modernistone."His examples.. . fora com(' 939 ). to we are rightwe gain much.the jective will be to understandthe senses of what they further theory downgrades indigenouscognitiveability. Mauss's workwas first translated English into onlyin I9 7 9 (and is usuallyattributed simplesocieties.that he contrary.. are Guthrieargues phers [see Scott I989. See Durkheim(igiS). although the concomputerswe use.with Tylor. on Collins. At best. For some recent works on the "self" see Morris (I994). Howell (i984).a concept which is not just a foreign word fornow theycannot do even what frogs can do. perhaps because. The conceives of "person" as an overarching category mistake embodied in animism-a mistake we can within which "human person. Lovejoy (I948). though these are the common translations corresponding of noLocal Senses of Devaru tions in otherstudies.given an animistic partof"a good perceptualstrategy. stones.re. Saler (I77J)." Animisticinterpre..Irving Hallowell's ethnog.However.BIRD-DAVID "Animism" RevisitedI S7I We not infrequently in doubt as to whether are I930s) and especially his paper "Ojibwa Ontology. .It is a cost occasionPritchard'saccount of Azande magic (I937). Gardner (iggi). Hallowell ally incurredby any animal that perceives.lowell observed that the Ojibwa sense of personhood. the question regraphic material largely drawn from my work with mains why (iftheyretrospectively recognizetheirani.Nayaka." misticbeliefsand practicesfirst from modernist personBut Guthrie's thesis is weak in its own terms.) Even professional who are trained the I960s research ethologists. and science. He states that the Ojibwa when we regularlyand closely engage with thingswe sense of personhoodis different without exploringits are not doubtfulabout: plants we grow. The theory any case does not resolvethe but does not explainhow the beliefs animisticviews in are engendered and classic enigma of so-called primitivepeople's mainteperpetuated. requiring translation but enigmatic to positivistic "afterthe fact"recognizetheir"mistakes.. call devaru.. Povinelli (I9)3). . Bird-David (I979).I shall pursue his insightthroughethnonance of animistic beliefs. and more consistently. experienceis consisthat the making of animistic interpretations itself is tent with their reading of things. tations are "reasonable" errorsthat "we can discover Hallowell's contribution to freethe study of aniis only afterthe fact. Assuming. I use "superperanimistpracticesand beliefs. to tween "human" and "nonhuman" as essential. (Guthriehimselfmentionsthese except goes back to Marcel Mauss's work of I938. Morris datedsecondary sourcessuch as Thompson(igss) and Ehnmark (iggo). argues(a pointreiterated laterethnograby animisticinterpretations erroneous.'0My obendorse and elaborate these "mistakes... When we are in doubt. The GirValleyis a fictive and namefor oftheNilgiri-Wynaad's one Greek.'2Hallowell's alternative"otherthan-human persons" escapes these biased notions but Personhoodconcepts and ecological perceptionare two still conserves the primaryobjectivist concern with fruitful areas fromwhich to reevaluate our theoriesof classes (humanand other-than-human).9 before amples. Animism. needs to be further pursued. because if we are wrongwe lose little and if which theyattribute some naturalentities. Mageo and Howard (i996)." In this case. parison.He argues that Ojibwa engagepersonsthe more theyinteractwith them (see Kennedy ment in the worlddoes not rebuff their I992:27).Besomethingis alive. furthermore argues that.
and actions with others was central to the Nayaka view of social expectedto share with life. Elsewhere haveexamined life]of (Bird-David social environment" ment. The MelGeertz."ones relatedwith. enced simultaneouslywhat happened to them and to theirfellow Nayaka. to preemptrefusals and hence challenges to the felt sense that "all of us here share with each other." which is crucial to my analysis. to her. another Nayaka commonly objectifiedeach othernot as the other aspectsofthissocial environ.normally . This was the case with respectto most Nayaka in the Gir area.Rather. not just the residentsof one's own place. They contained one.know not other Nayaka in themselvesbut Nayaka as in Numbering I978-79 fewer Nayaka. i982). for example.riences." in contrastwith the "individual. use acy" andtheearlier ofthewordin hunter-gatherer social as kin." In everyday I980. DEVARU AS OBJECTIFICATIONS OF SHARING RELATIONSHIPS In her criticallyorientedcomparisonof the Melanesian and the Euro-American"person.Maussian "character"-"the locus [in everyday I i S. etc. people For example. commonlydescribedfellowNayaka by theway theybeI3.lived in a social environment facilitatedand was reproducedby dividuatingfellow shared thingsrequested of them.but less because the identitythan because.when I dividuate her I am conscious of how she relates with me. things.The dwell.not how each shared but how each shared with fellows. asked for.but when exceptionally they did not want to part with something.relatives. set contrastingly wholes and against a natural and social backgrounds" I988:57). Equally. Supplement. the others of between one and three. for instance. theypreempted quests and refusals.to us.whateverthis mightbe.weeks.edness with fellow Nayaka. people excessively repeople theywanted to embarrassor quested thingsfrom giving. nuclear family.'3It is not everywhere individual is regardedas "a single entity. things. haved vis-a-vis themselves. microcosm homologous to society at large (I988:I3. MeillassouxI973 and Woodburn (esp. and and BarnettI976 for ethnographicexplorations).to what happens simultaneouslyand mutuallyto me." The idea and practice of a sharingconstituted habituswithinwhich agentivenetook place gotiation. two.""4This is a notion well (Euro-American) known in South Asian scholarship fromthe work of I976." I4. manipulate into persistent As I understandit.each occupied by a families rested.S72 I CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY Volume 40. which Nayaka. this common experienceof sharing space. This way. I31). RahejaI988a. the conceptassumes thatthe personis and so on (Mathen being one of a few personal names Perhaps in circulation)(see Bird-DavidI983).manipulation." Strathern(i988) arof gues that the irreducibility the individual is a pecuthat the liarlymodernistnotion. or sometimes even threelivingspaces. She calls it a "dividual. b.and actions contextualizedNayaka's knowledge of each other: they dividuated each other.theysensed each otheras dividuatedpersonaliings (thatched huts with walls made of interwoven ties. was as importantas if not more importantthan efof a fecting distribution thingsamongpeople.titlesand kinshipnames within different rights. only ate. as "Mathen pointsout that Strathem''s who laughs a lot. because there was much movement between sites and people stayed at each other'splaces fordays. absorbingSchutz and Luckmann's (I973) sense of "immediCollins.who agreewith Dumont (i966) that "the Indian is misrepresentedif depictedas an individual." "Mathen who listens attentively.and actions. barely separated fromeach other." "bounded againstothersuch and and integrated. and Lukes I985 :vii)-but scholarship the clan" (Carrithers. When I individuatea human beingI am conscious ofher "in herself"(as a single separate entity).not how each workedbut how each worked with fellows. some kindof substantive is term calledfor. entity.Sharingwith anyone present criteria. furthermore. See also Dumont (I966). I argue. to how she talks and listensto me as I talk and listen to her. Throughcumulative expeings. things.The largestwas made up of fivedwell. Marand Ronald Inden (Marriott McKim Marriott riott IndenI977. see Daniel I984. They graduallygot to know not how each talked but how each talked withfellows. "dividual" (a person constiI derivefromStrathern's tutive of relationships)the verb "to dividuate. divisibleor indivisible. I994).FebruaryI999 terrainwould have allowed their dispersal. This person objectifiesrelationshipsand makes them known. particlesthat each personis a compositeof transferable formhis or her personal substance" (Mines I994:6). irrespective preexisting and entitlement. argues a reuse oftheconcept but lationalpersonhood. This is not to say that I am conscious of the relationshipwith her "in itself."as a thing. (see Bird-David and let the local composite meanings grow fromthe context.and nonconformity I990). Nayaka-in-relatfromeach other. They experigether. personhas a holistic-collectivist according to Indian ways of thinkingand explaining. especially (but not social ties.attentiveto what she does in relationto what I do.thoughthe with othersagainstthe relativechangeinvolvedin their mutual engagement. A Nayaka expected to give others what they was. Nayaka speakers. Ingold(personal communication) for She "dividual"is unsatisfactory.A Nayaka was normatively everybodyas and when present.rather than disruptthe ongoingsense of sharing-the rhythm of everydaysocial life-they hid that thingor avoided rechances ofsharing people. The idea that one shared space. and slept in the open beside outdoorfireplaces a few meters apart. They got to than 70 per. They led their domestic lives tosharingspace.quoted in Strathern (Clifford a anesian "person" is a composite of relationships. theyoccupied fivesites at a distance of 2-IO km they interrelated with each other. of only) large game.I am conscious of the relatedness with as my interlocutor I engage withher. Weather permitting. each with a relativelypersistingway of engaging stripsof bamboo) stood close to each other.callingit an "immediate duties.'5 sons. and even months at a time.
processual. Their composite personhood is constitutive of sharing relationships not only with fellow Nayaka but with members of other species in the vicinity. things. they constitute them as kinds ofperson:theymake them "relatives" by sharing with them and thus make them persons.we can say that the Nayaka dividual objectifies sharing relationships and makes them known.which is indicated among other thingsby the different words by which theyrefer them (hills."is common also among other hunter-gatherers (e.they are attentiveto mutual behaviors and events..relatednesses. The otherbeings are drawninto interrelating sharand ing with Nayaka and so into Nayaka kinship relationships. The person is sensed as "one whom we share with. Nayaka also appreciatethat theysharethe local environment with some ofthesebeings. is as I7."a termusually used with the prefix nama. in the sense specified above.the Nayaka sense of the person apto pears generally engagenot the modernistsubject/object split or the objectivistconcernwith substancesbut the above-mentionedsense of kinship. This is common among many other even those well integrated into their hunter-gatherers.local kinshiprelationships which are objectificationsofmutual sharingofspace. are absorbed into one "we-ness..theya priori. e. Nayaka maintain social relationshipswith other beings not because.This dividual is emergent. which overrides these differencesand absorbs theirsortsinto one "we-ness. To returnto Strathern's dividual (a personwhich objectifies relationshipsand makes them known)."'7 Its use extendsbeyond the Nayaka group(family.as Durkheim maintains.The phrasenama sonta is used in the generalizing sense oftheproverbial phrase"we.and multiple flows of meanings. To summarizethispoint ofthe argument. not by blood or by descent. Tanner I979. when and because they engage in and maintain relationships with other beings. Periodically. respective states who live by such diverse means as state benefitsor jobs in the state bureaucracy(see. in the Nayaka context the dividual objectifiesrelationshipsof a certain kind. As they move and generallyact in the environment. These relationshipsconstitutethe particularbeings as devaru. constituted by relationshipswhich in FredMyers's words "are not totally'given' [but]must be workedout in a varietyof social processes" (I986:I5 9).etc. in some contexts.BIRD-DAVID "Animism" RevisitedI S73 interaction they normally referred and addressed to each other by kinship terms ("my big-uncle. using a kinas ship term." Beingswho are absorbed into this "we-ness" are devaru." etc. arguethat I Nayaka do not individuatebut.say. The devaru are often objectifiedby kinshipterms.). things. objectifies Nayaka relationshipswith the hill. Theygenerally referred people to them and share with them.and actions as sonta ("relatives.especially "grandparents." "my sister-in-law. They do not i6.and while differentiated fromavaru (people). Guemple I988)." "my brother.They make theirpersonhoodby producingand reproducingsharingrelationshipswith surrounding beings." which Nayaka also call nama sonta. This is a commonphenomenon who regard amonghunter-gatherers.They do not dichotomize otherbeings vis-a-visthemselves (see BirdDavid I992a) but regardthem.humans and others. Bird-David i992b). it makes known the relationships between Nayaka and that hill. as considerthempersons. to elephants. Maintaining relationshipswith fellow Nayaka but also with other local beings is critical to maintaining Nayaka identitybecause it is critical to maintaining personhood.In one basic sense Woodburn this as (I979)described system one in whicheverybody of this complex notion. and work towardsmaking.especially ette and etta(n) (grandmother and grandfather) occasionally dodawa and dodappa and The use of kinshiptermsfor ("big" motherand father). to arriveby projectionat the idea of devaru.). PovinelliI993. "our").they invite local devaru to visit David I994:59I-93]).'6 They reckoned relationally which kinshiptermwas appropriate each at moment (forexample. as nestedwithineach other. We cannot say-as Tylor did-that Nayaka "think with" this idea ofpersonhoodabout theirenvironment.not by biology or by mythor genealogy. devaru are relativesin the litwithinthepoliticalcommunity regarded kin.They retain immediate engagementwith the naturalenvironment and hold devaruperformances even when theymake a livingby different means such as casual labor.theyand avaru. a notion that correspondswith other hunter-gatherer notions such as Pintupiwalytja and Inuit ila (see Myers I986. them as personsand subsequentlysome of them havewhatAlanBarnard called"a universal kinship system" (I98I).while differentiated.They recognizethatthe other beings have theirdifferent "affordances" and are of diverse sorts. devaru the objectifysharing relationships between Nayaka and otherbeings. superpersons.neighbors) the aggregate local people (Nayaka and others)with whom Nayaka closely engage. and actions. Anyone theypersistentlysharedwith (even a non-Nayaka person like the anthropologist) they regardedas kin. calling "my paternaluncle" the relative "my father" called "my brother" [see Birdwith whom they shared place. The nameNayakais mostly used andwas probably introduced eral sense of being "that or whom one interrelates by surrounding people. The idea of "person" as a "mental representation" applied to the worldin pursuitofknowledgeis modernist. see Hallowell I960:27). the people. By maintaining relationshipswith other local beings to reproduce their personhood.As and Tylorholds. Transcendingidiosyncratic. They are attentiveto. Nayaka reproduce the devaru-nessof the otherbeings with whom theyshare. as relatives. dividuate other beings in their environment. kinto of dred.g. However. with" (not in the reducedmodernEnglishsense of "hu- .g. to Analytically as referring these relationships "sharing relationships" (because the term "kinship relationships" inevitablyinvokes associations of biologisticor rights-and-duties kinship).A hill devaru. Their kinship was primarily made and remade by recurring social actions of sharingand relatingwith." It is sensed as a relativeand is normallyobjectified kin.
motion picturesmore than pictures). People continuously forrootsin the forest when suddenly"this devarucame "pick up" information acting within the environ.It is permanent in in the animate objects make happen.g. 245). Gibson oftenlapses into essentializing language-as in this 2o. . not . in ment.attention "educated" through "came towards" and "jumped on" Nayaka.towards her. 284).sortsare perceivedas such. While Gibson's sist fora verylong time" (p. I3). It is equally a fact of the environ. the man (Hallowell recalls) "reflected long while and a then replied. . mechanical.broughtthe stone devaruback to theirplaces "to live" of sion. 284). mans connected with others by blood or affinity"). Devi (age 40). and using his languagemy argument thatNayaka fois People perceive these thingsby registering their"rela.complex notion of devaru. 282) by inducing "not an illusion of realitybut an awareness of being in the world" (p. Atti-Mathen (age 70). to comprehension"(p. Knowingis developingthis skill.which are changesofthese things"(p.'No! But some are'" (ig60:24). knowing devaru jumped onto her lap. stones.plus what the environment ecological terms. Supplement. This is another sense of the "Meaning" is not "imposed" on things-it is not pre. neither.pointed to a particularstone-standing next to several ronment. by i992.by means of "attention. with events. according to Nayaka.they pick up information terms of what they affordthe actor-perceiver because about the relativevariancesin the fluxofthe interrelatof what theyare forhim (p. this particularsituation.der a tree. I996.. From the i 8. Things are perceived in move and act in the forest. or Events theirenvironment everyday in life. Jonesand Konner I976). 240)..one and said that his sister-in-law had been sittingunmation thatis moreand moresubtle.All theycan do is facilitateknowing" whether"all the stones we see about us here are alive.the more. and firstperceiversare spared their descendants." There is endless "information"in the envi. The many is practiceand also by means of "aids to perceiving"such other stones in the area were not devaru but simply as stories and models of things.. repeating nonrepeating.restingduringa foray.The change may be slower or fast. chemical. analysis explicitlyfocuses on things(evincingWestern attached objects. together biases).They Nayaka in extraordinary ways. GibsonconEvents are ecologicallyperceivableas "any change of cerns himselfwith "ambient vision" "obtained as the a substance. his thesis is concernedwith thingsand events." (p. one Nayaka woman." the biophysical.It is both physical and psy.emphasis ." I9.20 of action. all ment as a fact of behavior.cernednot withtaxonomies withbehavior but (see.'8 but they preservesome "information"(picturesmore They are superrelativeswho both need and can help than words."alive" stones appear added). see Croll and Parkini992]). Their attentionis educated to dwell on tive persistence" (or persistence-under-change. 258). It consists of "places.Interestingly.cus on events. 242). "put the viewer into the scene" (p. it is also "both physical and psychical. .He reconceptualizes include what happens to objects in general.ative invariances.Blurton cation. 246) to pick up infor. of the observer's thehuts-and said thatshe had been digging deep down or receptors sense organs" (p.and pre. The labors of the Devaru exist in the world. yet For example. which it is an exten. when suddenly"this cise (p. premodern (I973. They are attentiveto the changes of thingsin or variances") and "relative change" (or change-above. 242).words and pictures. with them." (p. objects and substances . or observeris turninghis head and looking around.S74 CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY Volume 40."the 'permanent within superordinateevents.reversvision by which people (like other animals) perceive ible or nonreversible.. The exthisview is comprehensible termsof Gibson's (I979) in tractingand abstractingof the invariantsthat specify ecological approach to visual perception (introduced the environment made vastlyeasier with these aids are and popularized among anthropologists Ingold [e." The two women had is continuous with perceiving.FebruaryI999 tive" meant"a thing(orperson) standing some relation anin to other. or object. They can never "copy" or "represent"reality..ing thingwith theirrelatively changingselves-and. Events of different objects' of the world are actually only objects that per. e. wherehe refers "what things to are" rather thanto "what on movements. Ojibwa approachstones in a similarway: HalloThese are "not in themselves knowledge.storieswhich Hallowell provides.19 Their "affordance. "in. I23)." are I have addedthelatter qualifi." Gibsonian "attention" pointed to a stone standingnext to the aforementioned is "a skill thatcan be educated" (p. Hunter-gatherers generally are knownto be conthings fortheactor-perceiver. . which Gibson means "the specification by of other similar stones on a small mud platformamong the observer'senvironment. See Pandya(I993) for fascinating a study Andamanese of focus case. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary: historical on principles in English "rela.place. "cuts across the dichotomyofsubjec.g." Another man. . I38). as we are well recounts how he once asked an old Ojibwa man temptedto think. They "transmitto the next generaDEVARU IN-THE-WORLD tion the tricks of the human trade. .events.the world in relationto changes in themselves.. . Events are nested some respectsand changingin others.or "variances")." ednessbetweenthemselvesand otherthingsagainstrelas Gibson calls it.An affordance points both ways.When theypick up a relatively changtive-objective.when it happens in a relatively unusual manchical.elaborate. .and it arises fromthe stories givenin consciousness-but "discovered"in the course which Nayaka tell. . The particular stones were devaru as they Accordingto Gibson. Though stones are grammaticallyanimate in Ojibwa.As they persistence. yet neither. to ner-they regardas devaru this particularthingwithin the environment and to the observer"(p.
focuses on what the pandalu does ratherthan what it Mathen referred the offending to elephantsimplyas "el. jects.which prototypically involve the actor-perceiver.world itself. men. Kungan's place23 (where I lived at the are connectednarratively a more complex way. Late fetching firewood. "looked straight into his eyes.ing. among othersTambiah (I970. of These perforsimilarly related." the word I apply to the afpreventedthe kind of relatedness which would have fair. 25).communicaparticular elephantswere devaruas they"walked harm. They engage with ple among others)may be regarded persons or as ob. i985 huts in a neighboring Nayaka place. approach Nayaka. each family at its own time.which is continuousand coherentwith and even this occasion-though sometimes they did.better.BIRD-DAVID "Animism" Revisited I S75 to be ones which "move" and "open a mouth" towards siveness and engagement betweenthings. said one DEVARU AS PERFORMANCE CHARACTERS morningthat duringthe nighthe had seen an elephant devaru "walking harmlessly"between our homes. etc. illustratingthe humans constitutesan importantpart of one's "enviterrelating what hap. a performance. of varu in-the-world. In examining one pandalu event. 1979. Each affairspans two days and the intervening trast.interhuman"action" in-the-world favorof "action" in ment. They are certain 23. in the modernist how once an elephant devaru which passed by him as sense. Chellan (age 35).Devaru are not 2I. luckilynot injuring [I979]).moreOjibwa (p. Nayaka.nested within otherNayaka experiences.and music and dancand when theyresponsively relatedto Nayaka. The same underlying narrativerecursas Nayaka re. Kungan(age So) once took me along on a gathering night. Another man. certain mentioning prominent a landmark thenameofa central or person situations." The lack of mutual engagement day experience.chatting.This particu. It focuses on the pandalu as an event in-theephant. social event in-thea The devaru did not specifythe nature of the fault on world. I adopt a perforniance-centered approach count by Atti-Mathen how an elephanttrampledtwo influenced of by. instead of referring or to somethingto do" with the event in question.an alteredstate of consciousness.thatit was a devaru." Like the stones.livingthere. burial forpeople who secondary lessly" and "looked straight into the eyes. limitingmyselfto A more complex situation is exemplifiedin an ac.and on hearingan elephantand knowingby lage.means. Nayakahavequestionstheautonomy and refer themby no fixednamesforplaces to of things-in-situations whateverclass or." Several months later.forinstance. limited to certain classes of things. one place afterthe other.Nayaka hold them everyyear or so in each vilexpedition. "Pandalu"means"temple"to neighboring 22."Pandalu.talkingabout. In con. Atti. as have died since thepreviousevent. featureof devaru in-the-world emerges.referring the to constitutedthis elephant (at this moment) as devaru hut which is specially built forthe event as accommowhile it might be perceived as devaru on other occa.action towards fellow with Nayaka. He did not engage with this ele. events. by way of giving another example. Nayaka do not seem to refer to phant and referred it not as "elephant devaru" but this eventby any singlename or markit off to fromeverysimply as "elephant.dation forthe visitingdevaru.(I do not cast less food it as "ritual. pays inadequate attentionto avoided nor sharedwith. The followingfour of environmental events and thingsand (as I shall next anecdotes on elephantsprovideus with a clearerunder." that is. Ingold(I997) ofsocial relations. who happened to be away that night. They are events involving mutual respon.of this sort everyyear. devaruas objectifications relationships. an experience. An important Hindupeople. in time withhis family):People arrivecasually duringthe These fourstoriesshow how elephants(as one exam.day.he explained. he asked the devaru involved if theyhad "had tent to which such events.22clearly.ronment. like Gibson. I varu replied that they had "done it" in response to a as I cast the pandalu (following Nayaka) rightaway as Nayaka aaita (a fault. who.the local residentsin everyday as sharactivities.) The times or had started performance the later. mances are complex alf'airswhich.tion with predecessors.which devaruused in the course of in.an object. go farther. The de. involve "spirit-possession" devarui by but also a he was walking in the forest searching for honey greatdeal more. Chathen (age So).examination fills a lacuna in the work of Ingold (e. which itself depends on the "affordances"of events involving elephants and people.lar traditionsof practice.but they June9.Discriminatingdevaru is contingenton "affordances" late to animal devaru in-the-world. do somethingin-the-world.includinga communal social gathering.is sometimesused forthe purpose. It was perceivedas an instru. and Devaru performances pivotal in developing attenare this is how he knew.. dependingon what happens between them and ing food." as opposed to "practice.devaru alone. whose home stood next to the one in which I lived.2' sions.goingto the river. lar elephant (in this particularsituation) was neither I996). Unlike the Geertzian this tradition. tion to devaruin-the-world reproducing and conceptsof not just an elephant.deviation fromthe customary)." It is concernedwith the exmance.g." Nayaka view at its limits.each attendedby people its sounds that it was alone and dangerous.towards other species. One man. these healing."and thencorrectioning. over. duringa devaru perfor.not a "text.he turned fromthe whole area who participatein several events away and avoided it.argue)on enhanced attentionto them through particustandingofthe complexity Nayaka perceptionsofde. .that Nayaka had offered than in previous tivelyadopta performance-centered during the last devaru performance approachto it. In this case.Nayaka still frame pened in termsof mutuallyresponsiveevents.
evoked by the same per. the devaru complain and urge more each visitingdevaru by its dividuated people to join in.etc. withtheoperator.or unknownhuman languages"(p. Nayaka extendthem an open invita. and sometimes gaining. yaka engage with the devarucharacterswho appear. by Manycharacters possess individuating speechcharacteristics.usually one at a time. praise and flatter.I recordedand listened to the devaruby myself. Other devaruare Conversationwith the devaru is highlypersonal. (Amongneighboring huntergatherer Pandaramand Paliyan.. meta-communication.do not take care of them (or not enough or not as in previousyears.in this event. Today. See Bird-David a ofhowNayaka (i996) for detaildd-examination incorporate Hinduinfluences intotheir pandalutradition. The devarustresshow much theycare forNayaka and requestbetterhospitalan ity (more offerings. Each it (Morris reportsthe same for Hill Pandaram [i98I: the one wraps himselfwith a special cloth.bells. devaruare objectified kinshipterms.) and sometimes just as devaru in general.)Keepformer. the more devaru appear year after year and are related with. withmembers theaudience and of outside.Food and betel-nutsare laid in front all of these devaru. In its idiomatic structure resemblesthe by it The differently. and a deity of the Kurumba people who lived in the locality several decades before. Gardneri99I].they"bringto namely. At the extreme. teasing. A few people shift the devaru stones-originally broughtfrom the forest-from their regular place on a mud platform among the houses to the area in front the hut.inso crudelyspecifiedthattheyare barelydistinguishable.invitingthe area's devaru to come.expressing and demanding care and concern. and even languages (Nayaka. lects.whose existence appears to go farback into thepast. everyonegathersaround the visitingdevaru.dia. use French. etc.othersbusy themselveswith theirown domesticaffairs.takingan Devaru of all sortscan "come to life" duringthe de.. They of put next to themvarious otherdevaruthings(including knives. blame and cajole each other. familiar theaudience to from hearsay from and other performances. The Nayaka requestcures from illnesses. flute-and-drum music. Similarly.etc. barand theyare identified few Nayaka.only a fewpeople do thiswhile the tion by the recurring bows in the fourdirections. For example.minor Hindu deities worshipedlocally.The most vivid and generally known devaruare hill devaru.the more pants. etc.speech styles. As the performers into trance. the devaruwhich the performers evoke. I72).because the devaru are presentas theymove.the voicing. and friendly. various de.and others English. amidst the action.the gesturing himselfinto a trance. "During the course of the performance.. (p. and dances help set the are. and waves them in the air in fourdirections. who are devaruas theyappearand engagewith Nayaka. in a sense.Na. The ordinary roundof everyday affairs continuesduring the two days of the pandalu.getsangry Nayaka grudgingly comes forward and engages the deat.) and complain thatthe devaru. They are presentas theycommunilife" at the same time as attendantpeople engage with cate and socially interactwith Nayaka. as well as Hindu puja items purchased with money collected in advance from the partici- Withnumerous or repetitions minor variations .). and ingthe conversation goingis important because it keeps Tamil) from one sentenceto the next.24 they are known. liftsbranches 2o8]). the more. Malayalam. rhythmic drum.varu in conversation. are in termsof how skillfully they "bring" the devaru "to make gestures. The conversationhas to be kept going at all times.25 The performers evaluated ing.etc.cups. Nayaka and devaru nag and tease. to in responding questionseither knownlanguages in or unintelligible speechrequiring translation other by or spirits bythe operator" I71). occasionallyby names. The saying. S1jnn1lpmp1-7t Pph-r7lnrrV TOOO 24. became helpfulat variouspoints (I varu come together a gang.mostspirits speakin Cree. and elephant-and humanshaped figurines Hindu origin). Sometimes. mood.talks with. earlierstartforthe event. Chiand pewyan. Domestic chores are I990).are important. they [the spirits] conversedamong themselves.including joking. sometimesonlyby theirdividuated characters(as "the one who always requests wild fowl forfood" or "waves a knife. Nayaka stressthat theyare takingpropercare of the devaru (or apologizingfornot givingmore or moaning about not being able to give more." are recognizedby most or all Nayaka. to predecessors. formal.COGY Volume 4n.26 Some devaruare the Nayaka-devaruinteractionand in a sense the devivifiedby the performers with greatfinesse.at dull moments in Nayaka identify personality: by how it idiosyncraticallyinterrelates the heat of the day and deep in the night.) Other vivid devaru are elephant devaru.lettingNayaka go about theirbusiness as in who then switches gestures.bows in The devaru evoked oftenimproviseon the same refour directions inviting devaru to come. Saulteaux. demand-sharingdiscourse which is characteristicof by Nayaka and hunter-gatherers generally(see Bird-David on a theme."etc. communicatingthat devaru are communicatfall life" a varietyof devaru. they "exist. Kungan (age S) standsin front the devaruhut and bows in fourdirecof tions.and they varu themselves"alive. When it slackens.this or that with Nayaka (how it laughs with. At peak times. in Bateson's term (I979).). Theyalso "bring life" who lack ofspaceare not discussed here.taking these things of out of a box in which theyare kept forsafetybetween these events.S76 I CURRENT ANTHROPOT.to it.). responds to Nayaka.hill chavu and hill devi are also singledout [MorrisI98I. bracelets. for 25.Generally. These principalaspects of theirbehavior ming. Intermittently. and shakes petitivephrases.several men startgoingon and off into Hardly anything said about devaru in mythor other is trances.active part in the conversationor just closely listening varu performance.etc. in turn. (I993:I72) describesthe Rock Cree's "shaking lodgeritual"as follows: a "[It]features recurring stockof characters. Brightman 26. talk.the morevividlytheyare invoked.more dancing. in the afternoon. At othertimes. variableto some degree amongdifferent operators and different performances thesameoperator.which theywill continue oral traditioneitherwithin the performance outside or doingthroughout nightand the followingday." As nightfalls.
a stone response of thingsin states of relatednessand forgetan as somethingthrowable.Knowledgein the first case is having. a in Ifthe object ofmodernist is epistemology a totalizing upsetting-the-animal.connectionto the serious business of acquiringknowlages the learnerto engageinteractively mation and so to experience it socially.sharingthe hut with the devaru. dancing. cooked by and herhusband.vicissitudesovertime ofthe engagement in varu characters the pandalu theyare educated to per. a rock-securing-me scheme of separatedessences. processive.stone-coming-towards-me relation to me-reaching-for-the-stone. etc. rocks.To shelterunder.or singing.it is hard to make sense of people's "talkingwith" things. The devaru hut resembles ordinaryNayaka dwellings.and improvingrepresentations things inselves and what is around them. Throughoutthe two days. frequently sharingwith each other and. To study. sum.froman engaged hand fora two-wayresponsiverelatednesswith a treeratherthan "speaking" one-wayto it. From the bargaining the-world(see Rorty I980). which in part repeat themselves and in part change.Accordingto this paradigm. The engage. Nayaka families go on with their domestic activities." that is.Withinthe practiceof engagingwith de. learning involves acquiring knowledge of thingsthrough separationofknowerand knownand the often. theymightperceiveonlyits utilitar. Furthermore. The foodis sharedequally amongthose present. breakingthe known down into by its partsin orderto know it. invitinglocal devaru to join them. In the course of conversationdevarurequestbetel-nuts from their Nayaka interlocutor.epitomizes about the en.viewer."Talking with" stands for attentheirenvironment. sort out the intothescene"(GibsonI979: 282.the relatednessesreconstituteall theparticipants sonta and each ofthem as as a person (Nayaka person. In we can say that the pandalu involves "making [devaru] alive. furthermore.theybow in the fourdirections.She does not uttercoherent words.it encour. If "cuttingtreesinto parts" epitomizesthe modernist ment with devaru characters"educates the attention" to notice devaru as they interact with oneself.bringsthe eventto Kungan's daughter a close.a rock as somethingone can ting to know such thingsas they change throughthe with them. growinginto mutual affect be affected what happensto people (orhow responsivenessand. concurrently changesin oneselfand the tree. theybecome increas. with theirdevaruvisitors. are things one perceivewhat it does as one acts towardsit. Animism as Relational Epistemology .too.applying.).tiveness to variances and invariances in behavior and ian affordances: animal as somethingedible.hill person.epistemology.in her frenzy only sweeps the groundaround she the devaruhut and startsto undress(which bystanders stop her fromdoing). and possibly into mutual by in theychange):an animal-avoiding-me relationto me. "talkingwith trees.producingand being producedby this.It is exthatis."talking with" trees seems a ritual with no possible with this infor.Nayaka animistic epistemology.moreover. Participantslearn a separated viewpoint. Women on theirway back sprinklewater fromtheirvessels in the fourdirections. as if it could lisviewpoint. in some ways. the etc. Fromyearupon year of conversations. the tropical forest-the kind of forestin which Nayaka live and with which they "talk"-botanists of this persuasion cut down a stripof trees with machetes. or socializing in other ways for which "talking" is used here as shorthand.say. pandalu constitutes(in the Gibsonian sense) "aids to perceiving"that "put the viewer to pursue individual interestswithin the confinesof a relatedness-to negotiateforwhat theyneed while simultaneouslytaking care to reproducethe framing relatednesswithinwhich theydo so."I argue.and reciprocalqualities ofrelatednesses. and take them the for ment (while engagingwith it) in a relationalway. place characteristicbits It cates the attention"to perceiveand specify environ. "edu. Objectifiedas kinship relationships. The pandalu makes known the Nayaka-devarurelatednesses and at the same time reproducesthem.responsibility.historical.BIRD-DAVID "Animism" Revisited I S77 Withinthe objectivistparadigminforming previousattemptsto resolve the "animism" problem. stones. dialectically. raisingpeople's awareness of theirexistence in-the-world and. and some food is spreadin the fourdirections. of ingly aware of the webs of relatednessbetween them.point ofview withinthe shifting horizonsofthe related selves and thingstheyrelatewith. approachedideally from in relation to me-seeking-a-shelter. Compared with theirmethod.stone person.and pieces of each kind in small bags.sharingthe water with devaru around. It im.fallen vegetation into kinds.furthermore.within its confines."talk with a tree"-rather than "cut it down"-is to ceive that animals. IfNayaka only subsisted by huntingand gathering in ten and understand. when people go to wash in the riverand bringback water. A joint meal of rice. Knowledge in the second and demand-sharing with devaru characterstheylearn case is developingthe skills of being in-the-world with not marginalizedon account ofthe occasion but constitute a significant part of its structure. what happens to them (orhow theychange)can pectingresponse and responding. socializing with them. Some men occasionally take naps there.One elderly Nayaka woman falls into a trance.In the morning.beingaware of can relate with-that theyhave relational affordances.participantsare increasingly sensitized on to pick up information the emergent. "Talking" is shortprovesthe skill ofpickingup information gagementitself. The out of the forest a herbarium botanical classificato pandalu "preserves information" (as effectivelyas tion (see Richards i952). books and even motion pictures). the object of this animistic fromconversingand sharingwith devaru charactersto knowledgeis understanding relatednessfroma related discriminate mutually responsive changes in them.acquiring..edge of trees. citedabove).
S78 I CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY Volume 40.cially biased" (Goody I995). evolved the centralcommunal affairs these communitiesand withinand fora social kind of engagement of and are "sooftenthe main celebrationalmeans by which theysus.richer. the plants we grow.. Feit I994. study.therefore am" stand "I relate. Morris mental confusion (Tylor) or by wrong perceptual are functionally I98I)similarto the Nayaka pandalu. when.etc.nurturesa complex articulationof our own.makingone's awareness of one's environ.animated things by focusing on our relatedness with ment.thoughin my understanding theyregard as au.tional and emergent behavior (rather than theirconstiits and its strengths.This sortofrelationalframing aris Nayaka. the Hadza "sacred epeme animate things is shared by humans. with Tylor. and shifting ways that deserve study. as for "one-third themen" among 29.ourbehavior. but personify them as. requiringstrategicplanning and anticipation sons as friends and relativesand oftenaddressand refer of action-response-reaction. est and the cooperationwithinwhich that self-interest Knowing.utilizing and respectinganimated "things. We learn what of the environment as discrete things stands rela. relational epistemologies function in dividuating environment the rather than dichotomizing diverse contextswhere other epistemologiesenjoy auit and turningattentionto "we-ness.eats.challengingthan problems of physical survival (Humand immediate way.counter-being-whichamounts to acceptingit into fela nificant stretch time. not by "survival" of Pandaram"spiritpossession" (see GardnerI99I. friendly. Supplement. monthly amongHadza. the !Kung "medicine dance" (e.followingratherthan 27." self-interment and one's self finer. and "whenever needarises"amongPandaram. (The of peoples we call hunter-gatherers. and Paliyan and socially biased cognitive skills. by with precedingthe engagementsituation). we get to know these so stitute Nayaka's only way of knowing their environ."the whole night"among lowship ratherthan recognizinga common essenceof !Kung." which absorbs thority. As Nayaka get to know animated asFramingthe environment relationallydoes not con.aboutone-fifth andMyers's of study articulation personal of (I986) oftenuous autonthemen actedas performers.sings. and makes that being a self in relationwith ourselves.how theyact towardsus.) Their performance traditions-for example.ticulated with other epistemologies in complex.etc. omyand relatedness amongtheAustralian Pintupi.. Against When (goingback to Guthrie's examples) we animate "I think.forexample.g. Theyspanned sig. In some cases devaru areadditionally invoked objects.Recent work relates the evolution of These performances involve the visiting of superper.Hallowell I960. These peoples nor.28 Each event constitutesa these skills in situationswhen we cannot controlor to"participationframe" (Lave and Wenger I99I) which. They celebrateanimistic performances. . guesses (Guthrie).This is less common than other entities and then socialize with them their invocation performance ofconsiderable by but im. dances.can be achieved.deeper.27 The people regardthese superper.is engendered human by singing session" (see Endicott I979). they framethem relationallyin addiwhile on a break fromother economic pursuits [Bird. example. this dance" (see Woodburn i982). Cognitive skills have accordingly sonal. Bothways are real and valid.them within the confinesof that relatednessfroma reit thoritative among theirothorways.point: in regarding persons the study animals with as mately with their environment(if only periodically which they live. rather than to "otherness. Nor is it unique to lational viewpoint.It involves Furthermore. tally predict our interlocutor'sbehavior. At their respective timesofstudy. includingWesterncontexts(to a much greater differences. However. "28% ofthe Inuitchildren relatewithother to peoplein a double-binding way adults" amongPaliyan. what theirsituaednesses. broader.FebruaryI999 "from evening intothenight" amongPaliyan. We employthese skills in these situations. and because we socialize 28. Recognizing a "conversation" with a held. We spontaneouslyemploy tain theirsenses of identity.example of ethologistsmentioned earlier is a case in malize sharingwith fellow persons.forexample. tutive matter)is.in the second case.personify theoretical portance.I suggest. "one-eighth themen"among of and Pandaram. Each has its lim. The events involved theentire community activespectators a considerable as and proportion performers. They engage inti. CompareBriggs of of (i982) and Guemple(I988) on theteaching !Kung. lights differences and eclipses commonalities. Katz--982). growsfromand is main.They approachthemin a per. the Cree As a hypothesis. that the tendencyto the Marshall i962.we relationallyframethem.therefore am" the computerswe use.theydo in relationto what we do."two to threenightsin succession"among Hadza. more demanding and are to themby kinshipterms.pects of their environment.furthermore. am willing to agree I tentritual"(e.and the cars I I and "I know as I relate.In the case of Nayaka.havioris not predetermined in "conversation"with but ing practice itself. not least because Guthrie goes some way "shaking BrightmanI993).29 tainingrelatednesswith neighboring others. otherthings.g. variogies of this kind enjoy authoritative status in cultures able.when its bewith the participation together frameofhunting-gather. a double-bind engagementwhich co-privileges respectiveofwhethertheyinvolve humans or otherbeings (the respective classification of which is sometimes part of reflective knowing. We do not first whichone talks.irskills.extentthan the authoritative status ofscience permits). towardssubstantiating point. the Batek "fruit-season's common tendency.tion to making them the objects of their scientific David i992b]). Its underlyingargument is that interpersonal theirvoices heard. theseevents werefrequently with them." Against materialisticframing we drive." which high.human cognitionto social interactionwith fellow husons who appear throughtrance and dance or make mans.dealings. These events are phreyI976). how theyrespondto tionally framing the environment as nested relat. weeklyamong !Kung. I would hypothesizethatrelationalepistemol.
Kovel I988. but this does not prevent her is embodied in the practices which Tylor christened from posing a dichotomybetween a dichotomousmod"primitiveanimism. the conceptsofsubject to vironment. modernistbreak fromit? the ernistprojection. has been cogently criticizedbyIngold.concernedwith being curred in Western Europe around the I7th century.Nayaka relationally the Nayaka is somehow (causally?) derived fromthe frame what theyare concernedabout as theirauthorita. has littlein common with Bird-David'snotion Comments .BIRD-DAVID "Animism" Revisited I S79 Finally.fast to the quintessentially modernist concern with late in each case with othercosmologies and epistemol.has and Masson and McCarthy i995)? The answers are little to do with it. their study of how human relationsonto the environment-an idea which things-in-situations relate to the actor-perceiver and. The problem remains framedin edge. TesterI99I) thatsome scholars have de.one. to the traditionalnotion of a metaphoricprojectionof Their relational epistemology.historyhas it that Descartes-a reclusive into the Tyloriantrapand feelscompelled to assess the man-was once accidentallylocked in a steam room. Bird-Davidfalls Ironically.. each animistic projectwith its local status.and object-but whence comes the notion of "objectification"? 30.They low persons"." The answer is that knowing is relatingand the in delegitimating animism as a valid means to knowl. it is indeed uni.however.thingsis taken as a naturalone to be put with reference if versal.among other because Strathern's notionofrelation.forexample: How does huntergatherer animism comparewith the current radical environmentaldiscourses (e.to the Nayaka. to each other. How and why did it stigmatize"animistic lan. Bird-Davidfindsthe concept suspicious. but the question how we come to know fromthe tendencyto animate things. U. She objects.constantly off fending the impulse to deployit and terms of knowledge even though the answer could be regarding as an "incurabledisease" (see Kennedyi992 it taken to implythatknowledge. ErnestGellner (I988) arguedthat that in order to explain a non-Westernontology we nothingless than "a near-miraculous concatenationof must derive it from(or reduce it to) an epistemology. 3I.environment universal. There is then a suggestionthat the How we getto know thingsis nestedwithincultureand prevalence of epistemologiesof the kind describedfor practiceand takes multiple forms. This seems close view withinthe shifting horizonsofthe relatedviewer.The notion of "hunter-gatherers" a is case in point. but I am 6).The massive conversion of ontological ogies?3 How do animisticprojectsrelate to fetishprac.in otherwords. but all the same she attributesto hunter-gatherers a Conclusions numberof characteristics also to be foundin manyhorticulturalsocieties.K. The "dividual" ofthe former (I972).epistemology. There follow intriguing questions deservingstudy.things mologiesin Burma. the common human disposition to frame ernist personhood concepts and perceptions of the thingsrelationallyin these situationsis culturallyme. EDUARDO DE CASTRO VIVEIROS ReganI983. and not with how we come to know it.have grosslymisunderstood as diated and contextualizedin historicallyspecificways animism as simple religionand a failed epistemology. I owe the formulation thisquestionto Ingrid of Jordt's forth. circumstances"can explain the cognitiveshiftthat oc. see also Kennedy's "new anthropomorphism"[i992])? What Bird-Davidrejects modernistunderstandings holds but otherforms animism are there?30 of How do theyarticu. history.Animism is surely an ontology.ernistepistemologyand a non-dichotomousrelational sonhood concept and a relationalperceptionof the en. who are thus encompassed by this amguage" as a child's practice.let alone the cogito.She does not accept the modernwhy and how the modernist project estrangeditself ist answers. which the modernprojectis founded(see Morris i99I: The authorhas a fondnessforscare quotes. A diversityof animisms exists. Forexample. stand it.cogito is relational.Previous theoriesof animism. compare hunter-gatherer animism withpremodI findthe attemptto combine Strathern's Ingold's and em Western "animism"as described Merchant in (i980) and Burke theoriesveryproblematic.King's College.against massive evidence biguous "we" and expected to provide an answer for (see Guthrie I993) to the contrary? How did it succeed "us. Leahy I99I. io iv 98 scribedas the "new animism" (Bouissac I989.factthat"[hunter-gatherers] normalizesharing with feltive (but not only)way ofgetting know things.questions into epistemologicalones is the hallmark of tices? Surely.the most intriguing question is modernist philosophy. to the contrary. Can it be that a Tylorian kind of "dream thesis" afraid this sort of pocket deconstruction is hardly helps explain not the emergenceof primitiveanimism enoughto keep one safefromessentializationand modbut. Anthropologists persistin thinking bound to be complex. Cambridge CB2 IST. (not least in relationwith cultural concepts of the person). she dislikes fromthe actor-perceiver's point of view.g.as I undercomingworkon the articulation Buddhist of and animistepiste. takingmod.and structure(in Sahlins's [i985] sense). dualisms and dichotomies. validityof this epistemology and to justify on the bait where underhallucinationhe had the dualist vision on sis of its cognitivenaturalness." articulatedwith a relationalper.Also.sharingis taken as the esto seek to understand relatednessesfroma relatedpoint of sence of hunter-gatherers' social life.shares only its name with Bird-David's.in particular.
I996. theydon't: othersare "other" preciselybecause theyhave." This is a welcome contribution several respects:it in I find Bird-David's idea that devaru are situational readdressesthe difference between the "pre-modern" and event-determined appearances inspiring.What are the limits of a relationalepistemology? tion ofdifference commonalitiesand togethernesses. while strengths the materialisticand the relationalviews.the latteris a specificculturalexpressionin rived nature of the devaru but also says that many of certainpre-modern societies thatmay tell us something those who appear in the performance verycrudely about "relatedness"but cannot qualifyas simplyan inare specifiedand that some are recognized only as "'de. event-de. culturalize and particularizethe "modernist project" Bird-David'sis yetanothervoicingofthe recentwide.respectsI am fundamentally agreement in with the auson" that makes devaru "super"persons-the human thor(see HornborgI994.ritual. she manages to or cal mode of relationis "we-ness" as sameness. of Bird-David'srelatednessesare predicatedon the absorp. cially biased cognitive skills would be spontaneously Ifthepresenceor absence of"relatedness"is a general (naturally) applied in situations"when we cannot con.Bird-Davidconflatesthe two ratherthan phant devarurelatedto the animal which trampledthe problematizing theirrelationship. of hunter-gatherers supposed to experience?All differare ence is read as oppositionand all oppositionas the absence ofa relation:"to oppose" is taken as synonymous ALF HORNBORG with "to exclude"-.on the other.FebruaryI999 of relatedness. In orderto provethatanimismis not a (mistaken)culby There is here."But what is the "per. There is no mention." Ap. plex situation" (more complex forwhom?) of the ele.anthropological as a counter-anxiety device. In like manner.slip away. infor Nayaka view at its limits.the idea that devaruhoodis ratherfocus on some points which she mighthave cara context-bound. But I also have several ronmentalrelationsand the more recentlyconstituted questions here. an implicitcontrastwith context-free avaruhood.the men. Cartesian objectivismfromwithinmodernWesternsoBird-David emphasizes the particularistic.these skills would few indications that the argumentbelongs within a give us somethingquite similar to the theoryof magic wider tradition than a rather parochial. then the sketchy while on a break fromother economic pursuits" sugspecificationof some devaru would make them quite gests that pandalu may be an attemptto revitalize an useless. everydayrelatednessthat is threatening dissolve or to In herconclusion. Strathernian relations separate. she pre.It is curioushow the phenomenologicaljargonon . Thus the relational imical to immanence.and the and the "modern" in an age when such polarities are point that devaru are persons insofaras they engage in increasingly brushedaside as modernconstructions. anthropological discourseon personhood.Is of human nature which is firmlysituated within the a of not this sentiment being here projected onto what modernistprivileging epistemology.S8o I CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY Volume 40.Bird-Davidhas addressednothing trol or totallypredictour interlocutor's behavior. Lund University. I998). Bird-Davidmust argue that it is a implicitassumptionthat the fundamental prototypi.its now foundering and critique of modernity.cietyitself.however. it relationshipswith people rather than the other way arguesfora connectionbetween studiesofhuman-enviaroundis extremely well taken. We ships.as if difference were a stigma of epistemologyis ontologizedbut in termsof a concept transcendence and alterity harbinger oppression.Bird-Davidsays thatour human so. The former evokes a huts." on lationshipsseems to flyin the face of the "more com.concern with animism.less than the problemof modernity itself. situationalascriptionseems to relyon ried further. A relevantquestion would have been under varu' in general.intimatelywith their environment"only periodically tween humans and the environment. and ritualizedanimism such as pandalu.natural human attitude. To begin with.between "relatedness"or "relationalepistemology.a strangeidea which I can only at. an tural epistemology.the one hand. ii iv 98 othernessas we do.I would have liked to see a distinction The idea thatdevaruare objectifications sharing of re.Bird-David'sown datum that the Nayaka engage tion" to discriminatechanges in the relationshipsbe. Bird-David says that this case illustrates "the verygeneralhuman experiencethathas inspired. In so doing. for intion of the devaru-ization of unusual relatednesses stance.existentialproblem.but only at the price of a priornaturalizationand unispreadsentimentagainst difference which sees it as in. Finngatan tributeto the guilty supposition that others conceive i6.riouslyconsidering validityofpre-Cartesian the epistethan-humanpersons" on the ground that it betraysa mologies it shows how anthropology mightresuscitate concernwith classes (human/non-human). Supplement." Merleau-Ponty's strikesme as similar to the old idea that "primitives" "being-in-the-world. Sweden.in contrastto Strathern's usage.other"others. These are connectionswhich deserveto be elabomight also inquire about the respective limits and rated." But what is a devaru in general?And what conditions "relatedness" must be objectifiedin if interaction with devaruis a way of "educating atten. My remarkswill person?By the same token.versalizationof the animist stance. of Weber's "disenchantment.then. sein Bird-David objects to Hallowell's usage of "other. S-223 62 Lund." Buber's "I-Thou" relationor attributea spirit to anythingout of the ordinary."but this sounds like blaming stance.dex of it.Human Ecology Division. the long-standing phenomenologicalcritiqueof the Nayaka forthe limits of her own theoreticalview.finally. Well. all these In fersto call devaru"superpersons.Yet thereare plied to non-humanbeings.
TIM INGOLD [I940]). As a speculative hypothesis. is as crucial to capitalism as money or commodity fetishism.We probablyneed to distinguishbetween the animationoflivingthingssuch as trees(animism. By posing as mere representation. economic. at anotherlogical level. insightson personhoodthat she wishes to employ? A highlyrelevantaspect ofpersonhoodwhich mighthave illuminated the relationist/objectivist contrastis the tendency of "non-Western" (local?) people to anchor theirselves in concreteratherthan abstractreferencepoints (see Shwederand Bourne I984. Rather than a cerebralinnovation that has it since diffused. HornborgI994). It is undoubtedlyeverywhere fundamental the local to and embeddeddimensionsofhuman life. a great many contemporary are hunter-gatherers citizens of Westernnation-states. to to moderncapitalism. Finally.it may restrict fieldofvision to conclude our that the human tendencyto animate thingsis engendered by "socially biased cognitive skills. as Bird-Davidsuggests. It is indeed relevantto ask how animism relates to fetishism. more strictly would be reservedforthe intermediateand quite reasonable assumption that all living thingsare subjects. so is objectivistknowledge. am inclined to agree." If human cognition has evolved to equip us for "interpersonal it dealings" with unpredictableinterlocutors.Ingold@man."as does indeed Piaget's bourgeoisconis cept ofmaturity. i5 iv 98 I am in broadsympathy with the argument this admiof rable paper and confinemy comment to the one point on which I have a substantivedisagreement. throughwhich a disemis bodied.Whyexoticize it into somethingthat "they"-"the Nayaka"-have? Once again. think.detachment.BIRD -DAVID Animism" Revisited I S8i being "in-the-world" has infiltrated ecological anthropology (see also Ingold i996) without any mention of the sources of these concepts (see Gooch i998). It is the long immersionin the concreteand experien- tial specificsof place that yields conditions conducive to "relatedness. the lattera condition of phenomenological/experiential resonance. Cartesian objectivism and fetishismhere emerge as structural inversionsof one another:the former denies agency and subjectivityin living beings.Bird-Davidis right.The difference rather is that withinthe contextof the modernstate and its political.disembedding middle-and upper-classbiographies." We could thus turnthe evolutionary argumentaround and suggestthathuman sociabilitywas engendered cogby nitive skills that were ecologically biased.ac.morenarrowly and thatofnondefined) living things such as stones or machines (fetishism).Bird-David suggests that such ways of knowingare. In this of a definedcategory animism framework. instrumental rationality set freeto go about its business in the world. ManchesterM13 9PL." If this has been stigmatized as "a child's practice. indeed. Machines can undoubtedly also be animated in a phenomenological sense. But they continue to operate nonetheless and remain deeply embeddedin the experienceof everyday life. I have suggested (Hornborgi992) that "machine fetishism. Bird-David's programmatic ulate environmental relations and personhood is but where in this text are the supremelyworthwhile. This would providean even stronger case forthe essential validity of animism. Ingold(i996) arguesthatsocial relations a are Departmentof Social Anthropology.and objectification are productsof modern. it performsan act of alienation. The epistemological predicament codified by Descarteswas not so much an innovative. The example of the ethologists'comingto view their animal objects as subjectsillustrateshow "relatedness" is something thatpeople are capable ofachievingin particularexperiential contextsof some minimal duration. "Animation" is one of Ellen's (i988) and fetishism Marx was central criteriaof fetishism. may just as well have been because ecological relationshipsare fundamentally communicative (von Uexkull i982 subset of ecological relationsand that thereis a sense in which non-humancreaturesare also "persons.that the explanationforthis is to be foundin theoriesof the evolution of social intelligence . a relinquishment of responsibility. and educational institutions. There is a difference between representing relations between people as if theywere relationsbetween things(Marxianfetishism) and experiencingrelations to things as if they were relations to people (animation). to point out that the difference between hunter-gatherers and citizens of modernWesternnations is not that while the latthe former have a relationalepistemology ter have signed up forthe modernistproject. this not because we are all bornpremodern?Abstraction. Bird-David observes that relational epistemologies are performative. University of Manchester.OxfordRoad. There is a contradictionbetween Bird-David's concluding assumption that "the modernist project estranged itselffrom tendencyto animate things"and the her earlierobservationthat we may animate our computers and cars. their significancehinges on what as they do ratherthan on what theyrepresent.common to huI man beings everywhere."cognitiveshift" fromanimism to objectivismas the emergence-or unprecedented generalization-of a social condition of alienation. The former is a cognitive/ideological illusion.Afterall.I do not believe.uk). England (Tim.but preciselyby not admittingit. however. Ironically.relational ways of knowinghave lost much of theirauthority."at the ideological level. The point is relativelytangentialto the argumentas a whole but has important implicationsforthe directionsin which it mightbe further I pursued. whereas the latter attributessuch qualities to dead objects. is a reflection a set of social circumof stances that is continually being reproducedand exambition to articpanded. the anthropological gaze risks reducingitself to the class perspective of urban cosmopolitans the rural and the making careers out of objectifying local.
The error. man beings everywhere perceivetheirenvironments in the responsive mode not because of innate cognitive predisposition but because to perceive at all theymust alreadybe situatedin a worldand committedto the relationshipsthis entails. while action is regarded the as the execution of plans arrivedat throughthe strategic manipulationof such representations. And in doing so.however. BRIAN MORRIS the pulling strings action(see IngoldI993:43i).in essence.Perception.However.These conceptions." People who think in this way attemptto interactwith nature as theywould with one another.typicalof "primitiveand not so primitive-peoples. Philosophers. Hegel. a radical dualism between humans and nature. mind?) split. a priori. A critique of these conceptions-which Bird-Davidlinks to "current"theory in ecology and personhood-goes back two centuries to the time of Goethe."as Bird-Daviddefinesit."they are sure to make mistakes.animism is foundedin error: attribution social characteristics the of to objectsofthe naturalworld. To follow the explanatoryroute along which theybeckon would lead us inevitablyto the veryfallacies that she correctly identifies the workof scholars in What Humphreyargued. This distinction between the social and technicalfunctions of intellect is based. is a question not of (mistakenly) attributing it an inner intelligence and then to how it might decide to react to what one configuring does but ofperceiving "what it does as one acts towards it. If thereis intelligenceat work here. however. coupling of the movea ment of one's attentionto the movementof aspects of the world. amounts to a kind of sensoryparticipation. The kind of responsivenessenvisagedin anticipatory interactiveplanning. of Hu- Goldsmiths College. of course.is fundamentally different fromwhat Bird-Davidhas in mind when she speaks ofthe "two-wayresponsiverelatedness"to components ofthe environment such as treesthatcomes froma historyof intimateengagementwith them. But above all.too.and the notion that the human personis an individualthing. romanticpoets. inter alia. and Marx.it is immanentin the total systemofperceptionand action constituted the by co-presenceof the human and the tree within a wider environment. New Cross. and between the natural and the social." One of the most obvious ofthese mistakes. anthropologists.and therefore seof the lective pressuresthat drovethe evolution of human intelligence were above all social ratherthan technical. being aware concurrently changes in oneself and of the tree. London SE14 6NW. England.Such attemptsare quite understandable but nonetheless fallacious. then.just as forGuthrie.FebruaryI999 intendedactions: thisis what Goody (i995) calls "anticipatoryinteractive planning" (AIP). These theoriesrestfairand square on a modernist conceptionof mind and behaviorwhich fliesin the face of the relational view of personal being and environmentalperceptionto which Bird-David and I subscribe. seems. implies a conception of the human person as involving a radical body/spirit(soul. evolutionary biologists. socialists.Rather.S82 CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY Volume 40." Responsiveness. it is supposed. largely came out of Cartesian metaphysicsand the bourgeois liberal theoryof the I7th centuryand were intrinsicas ideologies to the rise of capitalism. sociologists.is understoodto be a matterof internalrepresentations what the world constructing of mightbe like on the basis of the limited information available through senses. between the non-humanand the human. To "talk with a tree.and naturalistshave long since concluded that humans are a partof natureand thatpeople everywhere neither are disembodied egos (Descartes) nor abstract individuals (the asocial organismsofbourgeoisliberalism)nor simof ply a reflection the commoditymetaphor(Strathern) .a relationalepistemology turnsthe tables on such arguments. Social partners are beings with whom an individual interacts.let alone inside the fabricof the tree.whereas in nature there are only things that one can act upon. theirassumptionthat the world is in divided. says Humphrey.was thatthe cognitivedemandsforan individualofstrategically managing interactions with conspecificsfaroutweighedthose of dealing with other componentsof the environment in the procurement subsistence.And forboth authorsthe prevalenceof the error put down to evolved predispois sitions that have a rational foundationin the calculus of selective costs and benefits. she goes her own way regardless" (HumphreyI976:3I3)." as she points out. historians. each partyhas to be able to represent the likely response of the otherto his or her own suchas Guthrie (jI993).it does not lie inside the head of the human actor.on a more fundamental divisionbetween the domains ofsocietyand nature. 7 III 98 I have read Bird-David'slucid and valuable paper with greatinterestand offer followingcriticalreflections the in the spiritof friendship: "Modernism. Goody (i985). Supplement. the first thingwe shall have to jettisonis the cognitivist conception of intelligenceas a mental computationaldevice responsible for processing the data of perception and of the kind originally propoundedby Humphrey(I976) and subsequently developed by. "Nature will not transactwith men. bounded asocial ena tity (organism). as if theywere social partners.in this view.between the inanimate and the animate. human beings are predisposedto treatobjects of nature.To develop this idea further. independentlyand in advance of theirinvolvementin the world. they make the mistake of assuming that life and mind are interiorpropertiesof individuals that are given. Thus forHumphrey." is the "resortto animistic thinking about naturalphenomena. lies with it theiroriginators. Yet precisely because theirintelligence has been designedby naturalselection specificallyforhandling social interaction. as Bird-David convincingly shows. social interacIn tion.
culture. a promising nates withpowerful themesin social theory-including the pragmatismof JohnDewey. objectivistattitudeto the world.which in turnreflect the "relational epistemology"that BirdDavid herselfembraces.as Bird-Davidseems to do(?). of spirituality Matthew Fox) or by completelyrepudiating dualism (as in the pantheismofBruno.The notion that "thing" is a "modernist"concept is also rathermisleading. Extending to the nonhumandomain the perspectiveof socially biased cognition (a perspectiveusually restricted the to world of conspecifics). which are positiveand in good.actual entitiesthat are constitutedthrough relations. The realities of the phenomena classically describedby anthropologists means of the conceptof animism may.a husband and a father. Hegel's philosoand the Creation-based phy.Radcliffe-Brown9 5.instrumental.religion.of course. Even the much-abusedDescartesacknowledgedthis in his letters. the identityphilosophy of Schelling. Indeed.the people I know well-the Hill Pandaram and the peasant communitiesof Malawi-not only assertbut celebrate the singularityof things. The notion that human persons are dividuals has thus long been established. such as spirit. imply a dualistic metaphysic.Iceland.a bricklayer. observer. dividual personsand recogare nize themselves as such.2: (i I94): "The human being as a personis a complex of soHe cial relationships. actual entitiesor unities.She thus overlooks the simple fact that all concepts are relational and that any distinction-male/female." identified with the personaland the social.The paper is thus pervadedby MartinBuber'sdistinction betweenI-thou(relation)and I-it (thing). Bird-Davidherself seems to be locked into a dualistic for perspective. mind.possession. .animism acquires a new meaningwhich seems more fundamental and more ethnographically authentic than earlier.Read in his seminal and article (i 955) on the Gahuku-Gama sees the concept of person as "modernist. just as all unities (individuals)are at the same time dividual.It all depends on how they are interpreted used in analysis. then. This is not only contrastedwith but opposed to "relations. University Iceland.or what have you) imply a "modernist"perspectiveand a dualistic metaphysic is rathersimplistic. One achievementsis to show that ofBird-David'simportant once we abandon the dualism ofnatureand society.individuality is a definingfeature of personhood and ought not to be conflatedwith individualism(the cultural notion that we are asocial organismsbounded by the skin).here extendedto the totalityofhuman experience. and Heine. Note thateach ofthese descriptions refersto a social relationship. But just as social relationscan be hierarchic and exploitative. us/them-can be interpreted various ways. a memberof his tradeunion. and the spiritualmonism of Parmenidesand Advaita Vedanta). or frog-that is environed. the distinctionmany people make between god (spirit)and the finiteworld can eitherbe in interpreted dualistic fashion(as in Platonism. our relationship things(indepenso to dentofreligion)can be what Heideggerdescribedas primordialand poetic."Thus "dividual" seems to be just a fashionableand rather scholastic synonym forthe person? Bird-Davidseems to conveythe idea thatcertainconcepts. religion. It is the same with everyotherconcept.Spinoza. body/mind. and reflected Nayaka religiousbeliefs. All people recognize things in the world. and so on. of ioi Reykjavik. and the more strident viewed as a relationaldiscontinuity in the Christian (as NeoplatonismofEriugenaand Eckhart. humans/nature.thing. The close relationship thatthe Nayaka have with the forestis surelynot dependentupon the fact that theyperceive the devaru as immanentin the world and as persons.and the Bakhtiniannotion of dialogue.as Fitz Poole and myself have both stressed.beings.nature. To suggestas do-and Bird-Davidseems to be many postmodernists followingthis trail-that certainconcepts (reason. in my view. relational.and this is expressedin language.gnostiformsof theism)or cism. relations(whether causal or social) imply things.and must be so logically and dialecticallyin orderto be dividual. in spirit/world. GISLI PALSSON Departmentof Anthropology. all difference entails at the same time a unity. have been seriously misconstrued. that is. and thus rejectsit.people are also individuals. but the best account of the dividual person was given long ago by anothermuch-maligned scholar."implyingan individuatedsubject.recognizingthat individual things as genera have their own unique powers and value. the Marxian constitutive view of the individual as an "ensemble" of social relations.BIRD-DAVID 'Animism" RevisitedI S83 but intrinsically social.a member of a particular a Methodist congregation. a2I iv 98 The thesis under discussion is an intriguing one. is just one more manifestation a basic of human capacity.hermeticism.like the Nayaka and people everywhere.is quite misleading. People in Westerncultures. all affordancesin the environmentimply something-person. we have not only a dichotomybetween individualand dividual but also one between thingand relation. by afterall.Bird-David's attempt to "solve" the problem of animism by combiningenvironment theoryand personhoodtheory one. Such an approachresois. an adherentof the Labour Party.she is able to rethinkanimism as a ''conversation" with the environment-as a kind of phatic communion in the Malinowskian sense. Bird-David'spaper conveys the impressionthat talking about "things" implies a negative.and settingup a dichotomy between "thing" and "relation" as iftheywere op- posingconceptsor theoriesis not onlyundialecticalbut All obfuscating. Settingup the individualand the dividual as iftheywere opposed categories.But. voter in a certain constituency.intellectualistperspectivesimplied. Animism. For example. deism.esotericism.spirit. is a citizen of England.
ity. If illuminating.she rightly relevanceof his seminal studyof "the belief temporary that life is producedby a spiritualforce. the concept. "has been abandoned long ago by psychology"(i992: 43). His interrelation sive and thoroughthat he could not look at it from the without.relegated to the wild. a massive literatureon this history.It seems that the "anlthropocracy" borrowI... I have problemswith the term "dividual" which Bird-Davidadopts to challenge modernindividualismand the intellectualistthesis of animism. . the extendednotion of the embodied selfof being a body and not simply having it-does not seem to preclude the idea of bodily concern. In the process." Nowadays. framean structed eclectic and highlyusefultheoretical work but also skilfullyapplied it to both the general phenomenon of animism and her Nayakan ethnography. is argued. Apparently.In the Middle Ages it for "relational a account"(I99I:I4) ofhumansand the "man thought of himself as an integral part of the with nature was so intenworld. intimate.like the unityof the Trin- Bird-Davidsuggeststhat her perspectiveis "one now needed in studiesofthe complexphenomenawhich Tylor denoted as 'animism.to reduce the issue to Bird-David. "is a recordin lansocial and political history" guage of an extraordinary to references the "divid(1976:I33).As Gurevich in medievaltimes Eliot College.Rival@iukc.Spiritualforcesare treatedas persons LAURA M.' an emphasis which to some degree resonates with Bird-David'sconcerns.religiousideas.I wQnderif it assumes more in uniformity the literaturethan there actually is. has not only conetymology. Williams points out.are a matterofsome debate.forinstance.'" The practicalimplicationsofthe relationalperspective." and "human" in fundamentally different ways. why once they reject should they neglect the environment the dualism of natureand society?I wonderif Bird-David's thesis of animism suggestsa particularstance on this question. argues(I992:297). Instead they suggestedan emphasis on the "material" constraintsand emotional reactionsof "primitive man.and populations seem to at!Kung. In attackedthe Tyinstance.Luria and Vygotsky I930. .argues thought.and engaged experience of relatednessbetween "dividual" persons. England (L." "non-living. of CT2 7NS. forthe environment. environmental environment. Bird-David rightlyargues in her discussion of the quesmodernistperspectivethat "the most intriguing itprojectestranged tion is why and how the modernist the selffrom tendencyto animate things."She does not pursue the issue but concludes with an ironic fable however. RIVAL . to caringforour own species.M." She opposes Durkheimian. indeed. and personhood. People like the Nayaka definea personas someone with whom one shares. structuralist (Levi-Straussand Descola). On the otherhand. the phenomena labeled "animism" were suppressed.is its monolithiccharof acter." although she does indicate a connection discourses.She arguesinsteadfora plurality animisms. conceptof the individual suggests the very opposite. Canterbury. it probablywas an inversion of the relational view which Bird-David is suggesting.28 Iv 98 Bird-David's call for revisiting animism is timely. The meaning of the now-suspect English term "individual" has undergone fundamental changes in the course of history.'" She does not elaborate on the "now. While Bird-David's characterizationof earlier writings is generallycorrect. They do not dichotomise the person into spirit and body or the environmentinto the physical and the social but envisage instead a social environment based on the immediate. in contrast. Hunting-and-gathering tribute similar meanings to nature. of fragmenting the medieval world and the otheringof natureit entailedtook shape in the Renaissance period. Given this history. It is important.however.to situate (to about Descartes. however. distincThe changein the meaningof tions and discontinuities.FebruaryI999 to referred an "indivisible" relational whole-somethingthatcannot be divided.uk). pointingout that such an approach applies "to caring for other species and for the natural world as much as . accordingto Bird-David. It would be wrong. Hill Pandaram. While challengingTylor's embrace of the Westernobpoints to the conjectivistview of reality. for loriannotion of animism." theysaid." One ofthe greatest problemswithTylor'sview ofanimism. duringwhich the Western attitude to knowledge and There alreadyexists the environment was transformed.And if for many people the incorporationof the body into their notion of self signifies intensive bodily care. namely.S841 CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY Volume 40. Departmentof Social Anthropology Kent and Sociology..unless it is separated fromoneself. Supplement. and ritual whose tenpractices of egalitarian hunter-gatherers dency to attributelife to inanimate objects or mental states to non-humansstems.modernist projectwas the cumulativeresult ofa seriesofeconomic and cognitivedevelopments (see Palsson I995:3-5).Forsome scholars the notion of unbrokenwholeness-the Nayakan notion of "we-ness"-is antitheticalto the idea of caring it One cannot care forsomething. Panofsky'sterm)central (to to the dualist.in my view. and cognitiveevolutionist(Guthrie)explanationsof anan to imism and offers originalcontribution the debate by focusingon the sociality. "dividuate.ac.she asserts. life.on the groundthat different belief systems conceptualise "life. "dividuual" personare not particularly alism" existed in medieval Europe. She goes on to show thatNayaka nature spirits(devaru)and spiritpossession riteshave much in common with those of the Hadza." if you like) the theoristswho have passed the on to us the conversationsof the past." Simiwith "currentradical environmental lar themeshave.been developedwithincurrent Plumwood. "This naive view.froma distinctive "relational epistemology. University Kent.Also.
especiallyhigherones.cannot be adequately settledwithoutpayingserious attention to the mechanisms that connect the intuitive rience. But the question of what leads concernsKennedy(I992:93-94) place is about animals as if they had minds like ours-that is. Butthematter "persons" remains largelyunexplored. people relate to teresting in them and communicate and socialise with them ex.like to placing it in the context of the Nayaka worldview. 5 iv 98 lowingthisprinciple.an. forexample.a reevaluationofTylor's concept ofaniforces are "made alive" as persons.Purdue University on and depending the context. She attemptsto explain animisticthinking simplyby but property) also of scientificthought.as if they not addressed. when. and like the "primitives"Tylor was trying it tend to ascribe feelingsand cognitivepro. tinctiveness hunter-gatherer of I found even more problematicthe theoreticalground epistemologysupposedly practiced by the Nayaka of on which Bird-Davidbases some ofher most perceptive southernIndia.in all of us.as well as culturists who "procure"rather in theirsocial organisation (they"demand-share"rather somethingdis. to know and that to bringto lifeis to impersonate. animism as an analyticalconceptbut the materialshe cites in only in clarifying Unfortunately. SANDSTROM than exchange).is so fundamentalthat anthropologists away fromfurther propoexplorationof this intriguing cannot answer it without enteringinto dialogue with sition-undoubtedly because it suggests techno-enviother disciplines.understanding animistic thought.she has now identified Indiana Universitytinctivein theircultures:the principlethat to relate is Departmentof Anthropology.A.ize huntingand gathering mal behaviour.into people.understandthis difficult on work as an example of how tween animation and anthropomorphisation the uses Tylor's igth-century groundthat Gibson's ecological psychologybetterex.mism.but no contempofollows Tylor's programof cultural of plains why the affordances naturalobjects are not es. Durkheim.210I Coliseum Blvd. And when natural kinds or natural Bird-Davidis to be congratulated writingon an intopic. the animals they are ex.and as if they had purposes and used mental offered no advance is made over the work of Halloimages-we confusefunctionsand causes and wrongly well.an extension of human cognitiveskills to nonhuman of humanentities RivalI998: 20-27). she apparently said about local perceptionsand experiencesof trances rejectsits uniqueness as a way of knowing.and Levi-Strauss scientific modernist relational animisticperformances. Bird-David cialise with them.gatherers. nothingto replace it but an antiobjectivist.BIRD-DAVID "Animism" Revisited I S8s broughtto lifewith whom space.hence relate to.replace or at least stand beside scientificattemptsto aspect of culture. What Nayaka "talk" with superpersons is that by thinking animistic worldview.Although careful larly obscure and ambiguous).she is forced empathyfor. Unfortunately.to admit that as empirical scientificresearch has inperimenting upon.ALAN R. too little is to avoid complete dismissal of science.Fol.S.ogy.. The interesting attribution life to the non-living of hypothesisthat animism may be butionrelatesto the conferrring human traitson non. including cognitive psychology. makes complete sense.actions. I ronmentalcausation. and because of the desire to so.which. the same way as she was able to recog. Is Bird-Davidimplyingthat Nayaka animism is not problemonto somehow naturaland therefore in need of explanaprojectthe exclusivelyhuman mind-body tion? other i992:i68). Kennedypoints to the intrinsically creased knowledgeof the world's cultures the concept naturenot only of everyday language ofanimismitselfhas falleninto disuse amongethnograanthropomorphic (which could simplybe brushedaside as a metaphoric phers.(as used by Atran i990) and the counterintuitive objectify egalitarianhunter-gatherers In ing insightful. things. It has been made obsolete by the very Far view.U. expe. imals may be turnedinto mere objects. Moreover. Fort Wayne. Bird-David discusses the work of Tylor. cognitionor "common sense" I findBird-David'sthesis that the animisticbeliefsof assumptionsof everyday reprerelationsof shar. my view her postmodernist stance robsthe articleofmuch ofits potentialvalue not actly as if theywere fellow human beings.in particularani. To reject Kennedy's distinctionbe. a concept fromcultural ecology agreewithBird-Davidthatthe main issue at stake is the derivedfromthe scientifictraditionwithin anthropoland how such attri. thanproduce. or for into divinities. Nowhere is it (see . The understand. ethnographic to developed or also in evaluating anthropologicalcontributions an support of her thesis is not sufficiently of clear (I foundthe examples of elephant devaruparticu.raryanthropologist is sential properties but context-dependent not.Scientists. She seems to propose a radical relativideas. and possession by animal spiritsforthe readerto decide but can offer as or whetherto agree or not with the authorabout the dis. in my evolution.the idea thatstones are givenlifeand ism in which each group's conceptions of personhood personifiedas.and so no real explanationof animism is and thought. Moreover. satisfactory.science can lead researchersastray. not surprisingly. Fort Wayne. fromsayingthat ethologistsfeel science Bird-David discounts. 4i6805.and conversationscan be shared.Ind.mances(Boyer nomadic hunters. species(Kennedy She suggeststhatrelationalepistemologiescharacterThe question whyhumans tendto use human experibut ence to interpret peoples everywhere shies biological processes.sentationsthat make up the core of complex religious Nayaka ritual perfornise somethingunique in the economic activities of beliefs such as those informing I994).East. people to develop such a worldviewin the first as if they were conscious and self-aware. and some swidden horti. because theyhave an cesses to livingorganisms.
Nayaka animistic practices problem of knowledge.FebruaryI999 could use the notion of reason that they are evaluated by distinctcriteria. for The fourstoriesdiscussed by Bird-Davidpresentpre. ritual frompractice.possible and advantageous.first by tions of Nayaka personhood. Does no one among them contest the accepted mined at all.contrarystresses its being unique among other ways. and I appreciate anthropology. animals." placed.rescue these practicesfromour pigeon-hole"religion. these distinctions and other modernist assumptions broader. knowledge"but ratherto ferencebetween religious and scientificknowledge is tween religiousand scientific but not only shortsighted dangerous. to view this culture within a broaderframeand by tryto compareit with othercultures-which is equally subjectiveknowledgeofhigh validityand reliability use work-I myself dichotowith all otherapproaches partofthe anthropologist's placing it on an equal footing do to the problemof knowledge. that which makes it more-not less-intriguing for study imism is the continuous subversionof orthodoxy sociological. the What can thismean? If.the Nayaka both do and do mechanism that addressesthe critiquesleveled at it by not distinguishthe body fromthe spirit. the cesses of scientific anthropologyin expanding our physical fromthe psychical. The paper does not "reject tion with alternativeways of knowing.The implicationis that beliefin de."since the days of Tylor imposed on themby purveyors should be acknowledgedbeforebeing replaced by the have been unthinkingly of science.she speaks forthe Nayaka as iftheywere of one mind on this complex is. environmentfrom behavior.argumentcan be situated.ics.as statedthroughout article. for of theirperspectives. In no way does this imply example. it would be "dislike fordualisms and dichotomies" in general.Infoolish to deny the power of science to produce inter. Animism is essentially a reli. Accordingto Bird-David. based chotomies is an obstacle. close interestin this paper's thesis.NURIT BIRD-DAVID interaction Haifa.Therefore. vey information Bird-Davidshould be able to specifywhat information is being conveyed.the language of dualisms and ditificanthropology earlyin this century.of "making one's the humans from physicalworldas well as animals.27 VI 98 human beings'meaningful varuunderscores with objects.[science's]uniqueness as a way of knowing"but on the in vid demonstrates discussingearlierapproachesto an.the differences to be ex.to interpret. the need not scientificway is neithergood forstudyingeverything scientificanthropology pected.Is Bird-Davidwill. it. I have myself ent fromWesternconceptionsposes no threatto scien. appear to have a complex epistemology on interactionand transaction. The spectacular sucfrom the objective.as a studytool. powerfulas it is.the argumentfurther.but awareness of one's environmentand one's self finer.The Strauss and Durkheim. tryto get closer to. Furthermore. ing to admit creationistassertions(or otherfaith-based in which theywere formerly The analytic use of dualisms and dichotomies is with scientificknowledge? beliefs)on an equal footing defendedby Viveiros de Castro. In addition.antiobjectivistapproach suggestedin this but instead view apparentopposites as article. To be blind to such otherperspectives.as a way of knowingis not to "blur the difference gious perspective.Scimade clear how anthropologists and evaluatingevia relational epistemology to generate new or better ence is a way ofpubliclypresenting dence and contains withinits practicea self-correcting knowledge. identify scious assumptionsthat obstructanalysis is to practice more. Somehow the Nayaka do not dichotomize relativistic.the subjective postmodernistslike Bird-David. like modernists nested within each other.the suggestionsoffered commentatorsforpursuing strates no clear improvementover the work of Levi.tivist traditionand continue to do so whenever it is are In tificanthropology. [and] richer.and knowledge of the human condition. This-no uncon.Israel.deed.Etic formulations not mies. I do not see have taken a the commentators an how this analysis represents advance over scientific Critical or supportive. and to make sense insightderiving ing. Yet. Presenting beand the attempthere to blur the dif. Supplement. "Science" is needlessly defendedby Sandstrom. and otherhumans.theirreciprocity the workI put intowriting I shall and address critiquesand misunderstandings then cious little ethnographicevidence for the interpreta.However.spectacular achievements of science are not undersue. order ways ofbeinghuman and manydifferent to fromscien. A graduatein economics and mathematworkedwith "hard" data in the objecview? That Nayaka conceptionsofthe personare differ. to the Nayaka concept of devaru serves primarily conabout the social and natural worlds.deeper.and the analysis demon. includingthe one between "a dichotomousmodinvalidate emic systems of knowledge for the simple ernist epistemologyand a non-dichotomousrelational Reply . fact. and historical)and precious of is a primarystrength the scientificapproach to the (comparative.nor the only way of studying everything. I argue that would deny that forcefully Few contemporary anthropologists cultural systems produce equally authentic in animistic perceptions of the environmentopposidiffering in ways ofknow.tions are of secondaryimportance.no less-is the broadestframewithinwhich the good science and does not justifythe call forits equa.S86 I CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY Volume 40.What Bird-Da.part of an overall "we-ness" that at the same time retains internaldifferentiation. This is a fundamental The Nayaka.
normalize sharingwith fellow point is not made clearlyenough.albeit with (and in) other ways.Pincerns with epistemology. comby ontologycrossedwith our favored which paringour studies. I foundMartin Bu. I-Thou .originallyconceptualized in opposition to horticultursizes that forhunter-gatherers animism is an ontology. which favor knowing through dichotomies.and peasants.. phenomenological)we tices as a specific cultural expression of a relational referto the pluralityof these specific groups. The paperfocuseson Nayaka while expandingits ho(I949:5o) argued that"knowings alwaysand every. but modernity has no monopoly over such questions.theless and remain deeply embeddedin the experience ber's "I-Thou" concept particularlyinsightful.farfromignoring these traditions. where it was in successfulway at all." I do not "reject modernistunderstandings"totally. Other peoples concernthemselveswith ways of knowing. Relational epistemology has of course been ex.wheretheylive. is sity. the expresYet it is not ontologyalone. Hadza) among which we ethnographers.ideological.objects of nature high in certain hunter-gatherers' cultures." Hornborgsees a contradiction where cept which his studentFriedman(I995:57) summed up thereis none (betweenthe concludingassumptionthat in these words: the modernist project estrangeditself from the tendencyto animate thingsand the earlierobservation that I-Thou is the primary word of relation. Morris Enoughof the theoreticaland ethnographic settingof and Hornborg effectively give these traditionsmore the argument. going back two centuries. epistemology. the Thou of the I-Thou is not limited to men places. However.and educationalinof thoughtcould have enabled me to take a freshview stitutions. cannot sion is used nowadays in softerways.in my view. moreover..This includes in this case."which surelyspeaks forsufficient effectiveness. describe." If we accept this.lar communities (Nayaka. gatherers"is a name. alists.the argumentitselfis twofold.perceivecommon features.Rather.rizons to hunter-gatherers egalitarianhunter-gatherare (or where inseparablefromthe knowns. when.BIRD-DAVID "Animism" Revisited I S87 I startedan earlydraft with this excerptas the epigraph but later decided to give Nayaka words this honor.Relational epistemology However.a point space than I could in a paper focusing on animism. etc. Viveirosde Castro rightly empha. lost on some commentators.Viveiros de Castro rises to the defenseof "modernistunderstandings" against an imaginary"enemy. .. There are diverseparticudescribe their ontology freed from modernist con.and ineffability. inten.of everyday a life.cieties. Ingold clearlysums it up). con.knower.It is charac. as Viveiros de Castro would have it. pastoralists. Althoughit is only within this relational ways of knowing (how.and knowing. and what theyare like without ing neatly into this or that kind of society.kindsof thereare no society-things To spreadacross the world falldevaru. Concurrently(as I have writtenthe paper withoutthem. accordingto Rival). studying how anthropologists modernist as agentstryto understand animism. but only pressedin many otherspecificcultural-historical ways.Hornborgstressesit persons" is not to say thatsharingis absent in othersofurther. "Hunterclaims disengagement known." The latter dichotomyis made within our own knowledge-producing practices.Hill Pandaram. Similarly.relationalways of knowinghave lost much of Nayaka animistic practicesby providingan alterna.say.reasons (historical.Vivierosde Castro confuseslocal and students'perspectives.of theirauthority. where. forexample.it is to describetheir tupi.The mission and powerofanthropology. JohnDewey and ArthurBentley our ordinary distinctionsto focus our attentionnot upon individual objects and theircasual connections but upon the relationsbetween things. by which formultiple of My intentionwas to presentNayaka animisticprac. He argues that while rejecting "modernist I understandings" address"quintessentially modernist"questions of epistemology. by whom.we do animate.issue is one ofauthority-whetherauthority givento presentness.the dazwischen (there-in-between). To some degree. while a plurality perspecof tives and ways ofknowingdemandskeepingthemseparatein mind and carefully shifting betweenthemto suit contextand purpose. We know that we describeit as just an ontology. ers.directness.If the that "hunter-gatherers epistemology. !Kung..economic. "Hunter-gatherers" a cateas we cannot separateontologyfromepistemology any gory has its roots in cultural ecology.where they and God. To say itselfa generalhuman experience. trees. could not enjoys authorityin Nayaka culture.) in particular cultures/times/ ist.In their comments. only previous modernistunderstandings aniof mistic practices that involve implicit a priori attribution modernist of ideas of "nature" and "person" to animistic people. avoidinggrandreifications. The terisedby mutuality. that the pluralityof specificcommunitieswe know as notablyin scholarlycritiques of Cartesian objectivism hunter-gatherers normalizes sharing. and. computersand cars). The paper suggests that these ways rank very but may include animals. our name. Hornborg concludes from the argumentas it stands that it addresses"nothingless than the problem of modernity itself.. lie in exploring"wide traditions"in theirmultiplelocal embeddednesses. I do not share Hornborg'sview that to situate the argument within the anthropologicaldiscussion of animism is parochial. lying at the core- one. "within the contextof modnothingbut sensitivitiescultivatedby these traditions ernstateand its political. But they continue to operate nonetive starting point forthe analysis.each with describinghow Nayaka get to know them is not to its own exclusive attributes. how relationthat personality and the personal reallyexmuch. cut[s] across the lines of constitute the mainstream dogma.
an object of reflection. ratherthan the otherway around.the arguand sharing. however. to the delightand laughter "individual" is another.In the pandalu they aka absorbing. telling. and I make claims of the third other" is in the firstcase to constructsomeone as so. in and ernists'attentionstructure and thatof the hunter-gathin interexchange with one.as Viveiros died alone in the forestby accident and have not yet de Castro intimates.("bounded by the skin"). I did not sufficiently early concern with the "dividual") is of the firstkind.an "other" as in sive to each other.fourth.by the compensatory use of the "dividual" notion.For example. in some cases to define"Us" as "not Them." or lieve. Marriottand Inden and Strathern did-simply to "stones are given life and personified when.kind."reifiedand congive authority to another "other.that a "relationship.These are the souls ofpeople who show different dividuals-this is not a fault. and social life.claims about others' structures attention. in proximity. things (fetishism)is. and the devaru-other. Connected with the argumentthat Nayaka give au. The contrast betweensuch an "other" with social relationscenteredon alienation.this reversalthathas generated her dissatisfaction with ual." Brown's statement(cited by Morris as an example of perhapsbecause. thereis no refuting or thatit has longbeen than in termsof relatednesses(or dazwischen).who in theiracts reversenormal jectivist epistemologyis itselfperformative another at socializing-grabbing food from each other." an "other" also structed as an entity itself. hunter-gatherers We must not muddle (i) generalclaims ("this is how are not exoticizedby thisargument..February1999 junction of religious. a distinctionbehuman beingsare bothrelationaland "actual entitiesor tween thingsin termsofwhat each inherently rather is this unities".tion of living things (animism) and that of non-living nomenologicalhuman being. "To and Inden.'" However. which expose alternative views withoutpredicating the I thinkhe is unwilling to pursue the point farenough truth of one and the falsity of the other. This The question is what a people becomes attentiveto and cannot be said formodernsocieties. althoughpeople in elaborateson and through what culturalpractices.Interesting Pa'lsson's on the fundamental ships with people.the way I read Kennedy'swork.reversed(e." which I use-as. and beas. Anthropologistsusually concern arguingthat human beings are constitutiveof relationthemselveswith "other" as different separate and ships to which we anthropologists and should be attentive. ("this is how for the X-people human beings are"). At the same time. I be. which rather draws human beings are"). and the other"-a part of makes all three claims togetherin exposing the moda pair.. charging logical level." I could not agree more only by knowing and compensatingforwhich can we with Viveiros de Castro's point that "others are 'other' startperceiving what theyare forthe X-people").Ha4 the former been the cur. is different from "relatdeeply embedded in our experience of everydaylife edness.existingbeside.sociated with a different type of social relations: the sors. The Nayaka's princi. "Other" is in the first case erersand arguingthat we ourselves should shiftto the a mental construct. The distinctionhe suggestsbetween the animaaka to pick up this and not anotheraspect of the phe.mism."dividual" associated bystanders ofthe spectators. Radcliffeand accept the Nayaka "other" for an other "other. them do animate." Morrismisreadsthe argument a claim of "dis. develop the point. and in the latter. Rival has several times got the argument rentmeaning.anotherhas been flexive claims ("this is how human beings are forus. all over again. made concerning"otherness.g.as Morrissays.and (3) reof to thority relationalways ofknowing. and hunter-gatherers') scarce in theirculture. Marriott second case a fellow-member withwhom one lives.which is how human beings reallyare. economic. It is believed that they Melanesians separating-while-connecting the Nayand roam the forestand are dangerous. Assuming predominant contemporary Western cially separate.S88 I CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY Volume 40. is ment (neatly summed up by Viveiros de Castro) that The use of the "dividual" notion attractedvarious "devaru are persons insofaras they engage in relationcomments. In harmonywith Hornborg'scomment that obas male and female. interaction.therewould have been no need to intro. claims which reinforce change or a complex patternof common featuresand differences our structure of attention.involves constructingconcepts and rela- ." is change of the term"individual" fromthe Middle Ages has been well accepted.Piccacio constitutethe main ex. it may be said thatin a sense the Western with sticks. and it is to of person in the shadow of the contemporary "individ. We ceptionI can thinkof.Similarly. people relate to them. but occasional slips back into fromthe world) to the present(indivisible our intuitions have generated unnecessary concerns.etc. Of course.as Viveiros de Castro nicely contrasts are played by two male actors. for forHornborg covery"ofa phenomenological"dividual" when it is an gets this point when he discusses fetishism versus aniinquiryinto the attentionstructure that causes a Nay." Nayaka (Note. and in the second case attentivenessto humans as individualisticindividuals to drawhim or herinto mutuality. limitedby space. Strathern.dressedup grotesquely them. Melanesian.but preciselythe object-each asbeen helped by ritualto coalesce with others(predeces.g. (indivisiblk part of a divisibleworld). ancestors. we depict other attention pal way of"othering"makes the former kind of "other" structures(Indian. reduce the labor of getting understandanothersense cause of the desire to socialize with them").) ism. (2) ethnographic claims between them and us.somethingelse. i996) interestingly "each other" and "this hand..(Human beingsare also manyotherthings. rather.claims preciselybecause theyhave other 'others."when naturalkinds or naturalforcesare duce the notion ofthe "dividual. Supplement. Fetishestablished.) Ingold (e. who is drawninto conversations Counterintuitiveto our own perception.'made alive' as persons. and devaru)." meaning two beings/things mutually respon(though enjoying little authority).
the animistic "grandparent" projectinvolved-and heightened-interconnectedness between humans and theirenvironment. POLOGY I988:esp. societies.but "mother" was used as a interactive." Appearancesin the pandalu are always particular:each at is enacted by a particular performer a particular time/place. Nature generally as were personified a woman and. B I R D .Rather. The giving CURRENT ANTHROof the economicsystem gatherer-hunters. material providedby other studentssuch as Rival herself. !KungSan and their Press. gatherers. Some radical environmenshiftin not only our talists even call fora paradigmatic view of nature but our view of the self. queries have been raised by ViSeveral ethnographic veiros de Castro. Bushmen in categorization four Universal A. mode ofsuband "The hunting gathering 1. Press. Puja. Semiotica77:497-5I6. to in a SouthIndiancaste. not because of innate cognitivepredispositionbut because to perceive at all theymust alreadybe situatedin a worldand committed to the relationshipsthis entails. Past and present .a person like the human but with somethingadded. as gest. Perhaps. Let me move now to suggestionsforpursuingthe arI gumentfurther: agreewith Rival thatthe thesis needs expandedwith Nayaka material to be ethnographically and.In the second case. "!Kung M. J. PASCAL. as Pailssonand Homborg sugwork.a discussion of animism has far-reaching plications."in Blue mounof and tains:The ethnography biogeography a SouthIndian University New Delhi: Oxford Editedby P."understoodas a selfnot splitbut fromothers within relationships(Koval differentiated The issue of modernity'semergencewas introduced being preciselyin orderto indicate that. identity S. I976.would. Hockings. "mother"was used as etc.dissociatedfrom lationships. and the consistentqualities transcending dynamics of actual relationships. B. A. AND JONES. mother. seeds of this seem to pre-appear the period's particularbrand of animism. were thoughtof in a social and historicalvacuum. BARNARD.300-305).and therefore heightened awareness of theirseparation. of University California Berkeley: of theory religion.I agree with P'alsson that it would be animism with to interesting comparehunter-gatherers' thought. Last but not least is the issue ofanimism's universality: Ingold convinces me that theoriesof the evolution of social intelligenceare inadequate forexploringthis as question.. I989. of foundations naturalhisCognitive I990. n. Lee and I. as time.BIRD -DAVID Animism" Revisited I S89 attributthen(withanthropomorphism) tions as things. conor. A Society": culturAffluent "The Original . usage: N. the awkwardnessofmy expression"devaru in general. on Another perspective environment: 1. for example. Studiesofthe kindis animals). "The peopleand the ethnographic of to troduction thestudy theNayaka.and the animistic projectinvolved "a sysa tween humans and nonhumans.Man 29:583-603. G. igg2a. region. "Mother" was associated with attributes which themselves such as giving life and nurturing.[LMR] University Cambridge Cambridge: tory. and eco-feminismenvisconstitutive moral community age an all-encompassing of humans and nonhumans.farfrom briefly imparochial. Beyond 33:25-47. He sees a contradictionbetween the descriptionof some devaru as "devaru in general" and the argumentfor their parnature. perceivingthem as persons. dynamicsocial resymbol. with them ing human qualities to them. He reads into Nayaka culture an oppositionhe sees as unavoidable between"superpersons"and human persons. "Inside"and " outside"in kinship AnthroNaikenofSouthIndia. negotiating. De neighbors.primarily and the superpersonas a person-plus. I994.which may be due to event-derived ticularistic. KONNER. CURRENT ANTHROPOLOGY alistreformulation." (Burke temofcorrespondences" I972:I72). As they come and engage with Nayaka in the pandalu. from"ego" to "spirit. they are devaru.In the Nayaka case. space.. In the first a metaphor. I98I.of which forlack of space I respondto only two.d. n. and earthparticularly a furthermore.objectivism emerged and expanded in connection with social relations of alienin ation. I 983.s. Press. with. ents" were beingsone socially interacted case.D A V I D..New York:Bal- An myth: in. gestures and sayings) remembered fromprevious engagements.then engaging as with persons. Research on shiftsoccurringduringthe Renaissance period. or sharing In Anthropologist."in Kalaharihunter-gatherers: Editedby R. I976. However. social ecology.Cambridge: and Ecologicalsemiotics P.while perceive both as persons Nayaka. and immediacy. BATESON.I990.arguing. .Cambridge The hunter-gatherer lantineBooks. The naturalness religious BOYER. ideas: A of I994. in supportof his general critique.Eastern press. beparallels Cited References ATRAN.Nayaka gradually and learn to learn about the other within the engagement.L'Uomo 5:2I9-37. SCOTT. BLURTON studyofmanof knowledge animalbehavior The proper (or. I suggest. I989.thoughin some cases (the ones I call "devaru in general") the particularappearances are not immediately recognized as this or that particular devaru by habitual ways of engaging with Nayaka (e. I979. Sociality on versations bands. thenew animism.g. posseswiththegods?On ritualized . Harvard University Vore. N. ideally.by engagingwith learntheirways ofengagement them. be a natural path for further Hornborghypothesizes. But "grandparhills were personifiedas grandparents. Coconutsand gold:Relational BARNETT. pology 7(I):47-57. Whatis a human? BOUISSAC.Schools such as some currentenvironmental deep ecology. Beyond modemhunteron sistence":Observations Nayakaand other Man 27:I9-44. 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