© 2020

Human-Animal Relationships in San and Hunter-Gatherer Cosmology, Volume I

Therianthropes and Transformation


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxvi
  2. Mathias Guenther
    Pages 19-48
  3. Mathias Guenther
    Pages 49-94
  4. Mathias Guenther
    Pages 95-160
  5. Mathias Guenther
    Pages 161-201
  6. Mathias Guenther
    Pages 223-268
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 269-302

About this book


Exploring a hitherto unexamined aspect of San cosmology, Mathias Guenther’s two volumes on hunter-animal relations in San cosmology link “new Animism” with Khoisan Studies, providing valuable insights for Khoisan Studies and San culture, but also for anthropological theory, relational ontology, folklorists, historians, literary critics and art historians. 

In Volume I, therianthropes and transformations, two manifestations of ontological mutability that are conceptually and phenomenologically linked, are contextualized in broader San myth. Guenther explores the pervasiveness of human-animal hybridity and transformation in San expressive culture (myth, stories and storytelling, ludic dancing and art, ancestral rock art and contemporary easel art), ritual (trance dance curing, female and male rites of passage) and hunting. Transformation is shown to be experienced by humans, particularly via rituals and dancing that evoke animal identity mergers, but also by hunters who may engage with their prey animals in terms of sympathy and inter-subjectivity, particularly through the use of “hunting medicines.”


San cosmology Khoisan Studies Non-Bantu peoples Southern Africa African folklore relational ontology new Animism

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyWilfrid Laurier UniversityOntarioCanada

About the authors

Mathias Guenther is Professor Emeritus at Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada. He is the author of over 100 journal articles and six books, including Tricksters and Tracers: Bushman Religion and Society (1999).

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Human-Animal Relationships in San and Hunter-Gatherer Cosmology, Volume I
  • Book Subtitle Therianthropes and Transformation
  • Authors Mathias Guenther
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences Social Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-21181-3
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-21184-4
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-21182-0
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXVI, 302
  • Number of Illustrations 24 b/w illustrations, 34 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Social Anthropology
    Religion and Society
    African Culture
    Cultural Anthropology
  • Buy this book on publisher's site