Size Matters!: The Scalability Of Modern Hunter-Gatherer Animism

Evening class

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Nurit Bird-David

Size Matters!: The Scalability Of Modern Hunter-Gatherer Animism

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - 18:45

Cultural anthropology has for decades been committed to the multiculturalist tenet that all cultures should be equally approached, regardless of their population and community size. In this talk, I will highlight the unintended distortive effect of this approach when studying modern hunter-gatherers. I argue that the miniscule size of hunter-gatherer communities, shaping how they scale their world and imagine it, is a cardinal factor that should not be overlooked. I will examine the distortive effect of scale-blind studies of indigenous animistic beliefs, a long-studied topic that now enjoys much renewed interest. Key terms in the analysis of animism too often derive from large-scale modern social ontologies, as a result of which we fail to appreciate the intimate nature of interpersonal and interspecies relationships prevailing in the miniscule communities of hunter-gatherers.

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Evening class information

Our evening talks include discussion, are free and open to all.

Next evening class

Thea Skanes

Ritual Life Among The Hadza: The Dancing Dead And Animal Kindred Spirits
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 18:45
Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square. map

This talk is an introduction to the Hadza epeme dance, a community-wide healing ritual which can only be performed at night in total darkness, during the time of month when there is no moon in the sky.