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October 2021

Rethinking animism: Thoughts from the infancy of our discipline

Journal/Book: J Roy Anthropol Inst. 1999; 5: 50 Fitzroy Street, London, England W1P 5Hs. Royal Anthropological Inst. 541-555.

Abstract: Here I look at E.B. Tylor's classic work Primitive culture, particularly that aspect that deals with animism. I discuss several of the critiques of animism, showing how most of them have actually misread Tylor's original intentions in relation to his supposed 'theory of origins' and his understanding of 'spirit', among other things. Then, by focusing on Tylor's theory of myth and the process by which he constructs his argument concerning animism, I provide a re-reading that focuses on discourse and layers of religious practice within individual societies. Finally, I indicate how this re-reading of Tylor relates to contemporary writing on animism and modern religions.

Note: Article Stringer MD, Univ Birmingham, Dept Theol, Birmingham B15 2TT, W Midlands, ENGLAND

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