Communitas pp 143-165 | Cite as

The Communitas of Nature

  • Edith Turner
Part of the Contemporary Anthropology of Religion book series (CAR)


Anthropology is learning a better way of looking at the nature/culture dyad than the twentieth century version that implies humanity’s fear of nature, the power of culture over nature, and hostility between them. There is a way of framing existence that addresses the respect we have learned for nature and the mystery of our sense of it. Nature not only comprises humanity, living things, and objects but also the way human beings act in producing the richness of their culture. It is their nature to do so, and therefore nature includes culture. Furthermore, the evidence of humanity’s wide community of spirits and the consciousness of them that appears among humans are corning to be accepted. There are spirits, shamanic helpers, angels, and gods, and they have talked to people or had effects on them. I can have a sense of my soul. This is not outside of anthropology. Neither, then, are these things outside of nature, because I am biological, and we who feel the spiritual are flesh and blood. The body is made that way. Let us try out the thought that the spirits outside ourselves are part of the world, open to anthropology, and also, therefore, are part of nature—that is, if we dare to expand our ideas further.


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© Edith Turner 2012

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  • Edith Turner

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