Personhood and relationality have re-animated debate in and between many disciplines. We are in the midst of a simultaneous "ontological turn", a "(re)turn to things" and a "relational turn", and also debating a "new animism". It is increasingly recognised that the boundaries between the "natural" and "social" sciences are of heuristic value but might not adequately describe reality of a multi-species world. Following rich and provocative dialogues between ethnologists and Indigenous experts, relations between the received knowledge of Western Modernity and that of people who dwell and move within different ontologies have shifted. Reflection on human relations with the larger-than-human world can no longer rely on the outdated assumption that "nature" and "cultures" already accurately describe the lineaments of reality.
The chapters in this volume advance debates about relations between humans and things, between scholars and others, and between Modern and Indigenous ontologies. They consider how terms in diverse communities might hinder or help express, evidence and explore improved ways of knowing and being in the world. Contributors to this volume bring different perspectives and approaches to bear on questions about animism, personhood, materiality, and relationality. They include anthropologists, archaeologists, ethnographers, and scholars of religion.
"From religious objects that mobilize communities, to the analysis of techno-animisms where robots and humans project agency in Japan, passing through the redefinition of Stonehenge and Mayan Polyontologies, Rethinking Relations is a book that will make a significant impact in anthropology, religious studies, and archaeology […] In essence, Rethinking Relations gives us a refreshing view of traditional anthropological concepts, where notions like personhood, animism, and agency take on a whole new meaning, one that fulfills the ideal of what Latour has called a symmetrical anthropology."
- Sergio Gonzalez Varela, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, Reading Religion
Foreword by Philip P. Arnold
Introduction: We have never been individuals
Miguel Astor-Aguilera and Graham Harvey
PART 1: Relations
1 On the Ontological Scheme of Beyond Nature and Culture
2 Persons or relatives? Animistic scales of practice and imagination
3 Adjusted styles of communication (ASCs) in the post-Cartesian world
PART 2: Things
4 Assembling new ontologies from old materials: Towards multiplicity
Oliver J. T. Harris and Rachel J. Crellin
5 Religious objects: Uncomfortable relations and an ontological turn to things
6 Robot Companions: The Animation of Technology and the Technology of Animation in Japan
Fabio R. Gygi
PART 3: Approaches
7 The Ontological Turn, Indigenous Research, and Niitsitapi Protocols of Reciprocity
Kenneth H. Lokensgard
8 Maya-Mesoamerican Polyontologies: Breath and Indigenous American Vital Essences
9 Environment, ontology and visual perception: A saltwater case
10 "Are All Stones Alive?": Anthropological and Anishinaabe Approaches to Personhood
Maureen Matthews and Roger Roulette
Routledge's Vitality of Indigenous Religions series offers an exciting cluster of research monographs, drawing together volumes from leading international scholars across a wide range of disciplinary perspectives. Indigenous religions are vital and empowering for many thousands of indigenous peoples globally, and dialogue with, and consideration of, these diverse religious life-ways promises to challenge and refine the methodologies of a number of academic disciplines, whilst greatly enhancing understandings of the world.
This series explores the development of contemporary indigenous religions from traditional, ancestral precursors, but the characteristic contribution of the series is its focus on their living and current manifestations. Devoted to the contemporary expression, experience and understanding of particular indigenous peoples and their religions, books address key issues which include: the sacredness of land, exile from lands, diasporic survival and diversification, the indigenization of Christianity and other missionary religions, sacred language, and re-vitalization movements. Proving of particular value to academics, graduates, postgraduates and higher level undergraduate readers worldwide, this series holds obvious attraction to scholars of Native American studies, Maori studies, African studies and offers invaluable contributions to religious studies, sociology, anthropology, geography and other related subject areas.