- Hardcover: 208 pages
- Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd (1 Feb. 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1850657572
- ISBN-13: 978-1850657576
- Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.4 x 2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,234,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Animism: Respecting the Living World Hardcover – 1 Feb 2005
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"'The strengths of this book are its fluid and engaging [...] writing, its openly committed stand on the central question, i.e., whether or not animals, plants, rivers, etc. are persons; and its use of major ethnographic sources as evidence, together with conversations with indigenous peoples.' - Professor Stewart Guthrie, Fordham University"
About the Author
Graham Harvey is Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at the Open University and author of Listening People, Speaking Earth: Contemporary Paganism (Hurst 1997).
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Top Customer Reviews
*a short history of the academic approach to animism, titled 'from derogatory to critical term' by the author
*a range of case studies:
*the Ojibwe, especially how their language reflects animism
*Maori concepts of space and place, as well as their art
*Australian aboriginal law and the land
*a discussion of many animist issues; including personhood, death, shamans, totems, ethics etc. etc.
*the place of animism in the modern world, for example in relation to environmentalism
A nice book about many different aspects of animism, the only negative points in my opinion were the author's occasional lapses into very high-brow, over-the-top language, which made it quite difficult to understand at times (or maybe I'm just thick! :) ). Also the author doesn't hold back from branding all "Westerners" as essentially materialistic and greedy, which I really thought was quite unprofessional and no better than the early academics who derided all animist cultures as 'primitives' and 'savages'. But altogether a good-value book full of information. The modern case studies are particularly interesting.
The book is split into 4 parts covering the history and evolution of the idea of animism, case studies of past and current cultures, issues affecting animism and wider factors and beliefs, and challenges to animism together with how the belief can be used in wider debates.
The best way to describe this book is 'academic theory'. It is not so much a practical handbook of animism, but rather an attempt of explaining what the concept is, how its definition was created, how the activities and languages of cultures are rooted firmly in animism, and how the subject can relate to wider disciplines.
The problem I found is that the book is slightly on the heavy-side, with a great deal of theoretical concepts that are sometimes difficult to grasp, together with the way the book is written. The grammer meant at times I was confused as to what exactly Harvey was trying to say. The case studies included indigenous words meaning the flow of the paragraphs was broken up. In addition, Harvey used many difficult-to-understand words to explain something which I think could have been explained in simpler words.
If you can get past the slightly heavy grammar, then the book truly opens your eyes to animism and the world around us. Animism is not just a belief in living things having spirits, but it is a way of respecting and acknowledging all persons in this world, only some of which are human.Read more ›