New Animism in the Euro-American Cultural Context?

Anthrozoological Explorations

Recent research into animistic cultures provides more nuanced, less “romanticised” understandings of indigenous people.  Kapfhammer (2012) makes the following point, in relation to Euro-American movements towards “new animism”:

“…from a Western perspective the Amazon is still presumed to be an edenic landscape primarily because the local indigenous peoples have developed millennia old cosmologies that are based on “sound” relationships between what we call ‘humans’ and what we call ‘nature’. Many scholars hold that it is exactly these ontologies and epistemologies that blur the line between culture and nature, which marks the difference between ‘pathological’ and ‘non-pathological’ human-nature relations.”  (2012:148)

Kapfhammer (2012) considers Bekoff to be a Western (new) animist, and he might consider Goodall, Griffin, de Waal and Wise to be part of this developing perspective.  The legal actions on behalf of chimpanzees (animals that are “out of place”) are an attempt to acknowledge continuity between humans and other animals…

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