Animism - Life as Reciprocity and Inwardness
We practice animism when we recognise and treat members of the more-than-human world as alive, as agents with goals, desires and feelings, in short, as persons. For a long time, the term “animism” was used in a negative sense and with a colonial stance: Animists were those who did not believe that one transcendent god created all the objects of the world, which is now the Western disposition. To look down at those who treat more-than-human members of life as persons, and to look down on these more-than-human persons, and to define (Western) humanity as something higher, was basically the recipe that pushed the living Earth – the community of life with all its members, more-than-human and human, into the great dying which is the sign of our epoch. But as the natural sciences more and more are able to prove, the animists were right. All other beings are subjects, entangled with one another – and with ourselves – in one big meshwork of reciprocity. This web requires work to remain fertile, and gifts fecundity in return. The world is sentient, and it brings forth persons in many shapes. We are part of a huge family of life, with which we can communicate, because they share our aliveness. To see this and act accordingly will allow us to work for the continuity of life, whatever the future may hold. What, then, can animism teach us about kinship? What might animism have to offer in the context of modernity?
This course is part of Week 6 of the KINSHIP Online Course. In Week 6, we dive into The More-Than-Human.
This week we are exploring the more-than-human in our conceptions of kinship. We will look at how the “new animism” may offer pathways towards healthier relationships (and a sense of deep belonging) with the more-than-human world. We will look at the notion of personhood, and explore how respect, acknowledgment, and reciprocity plays a role in our relations with the more-than-human world.
We will draw attention to the relationships with the more-than-human that are already there, waiting to be discovered wherever you are. Additionally, we will ask: can we belong to a more-than-human ecosystem? And how do the biotic and abiotic dimensions of our life affect the ways in which we relate? (is technology more-than-human?)
KINSHIP: An Online Course
Andreas Weber #
Andreas is a Berlin based author & independent scholar. He has degrees in Marine Biology & Cultural Studies, having collaborated with theoretical biologist Francisco Varela in Paris. Andreas’ work is focusing on a re-evaluation of our understanding of the living. He is proposing to understand organisms as subjects & hence the biosphere as a meaning-creating & poetic reality. Andreas is the author of Enlivenment. Toward a Poetics for the Anthropocene, & Sharing Life: The Ecopolitics of Reciprocity.