Conclusion: Ontological Ambiguity and Anthropological Astonishment

  • Mathias Guenther


The concluding chapter deals with what, in the context of San ontology and cosmology, I see as both strengths and weaknesses in the New Animism discourse. The former are a new and novel concern with hunter-gatherer cosmology and ontology (including hunting) from a relational, phenomenological as well as posthumanist perspective, and an appreciation and enlisting, in that scholarly endeavor, of the “indigenous perspective”. The weaknesses derive from an overly dogmatic or fervent—“wonder”-fueled—and ethnographically misinformed interpretation of the posthumanist “ontological turn” by grafting New Age shoots onto New Animism stock. Having been successful in shedding the Old Animism’s baggage—of racism, evolutionism, Cartesianism, neglect of the indigenous perspective—the New Animism is in danger of burdening itself with new baggage—of ethnographically naïve eco-idealistic celebration of vitalism and failure, in a spirit of a naïve neo-Eliade’ian notion of solidarité mystique, to recognize that, on the part of both human and animal, there is as much retention of species autonomy as there is dissolution.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mathias Guenther
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyWilfrid Laurier UniversityOntarioCanada

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