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Book: Ritual, Personhood and the New Animism

Chapter: Rituals, Wood, Bone, and Stone: Material Approaches to Indigenous Religions

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.45196


Academic attention to Indigenous religions has grown steadily since the 1990’s in parallel with increasing attention to the material dimension of religions. In fact, the influential scholarship of Graham Harvey with his emphasis new animism research, lived religion, and material religions have generated new life and new directions for research for the academic Study of Religions. In the spirit of salutation, this chapter highlights the influence and impact of Harvey’s work by operationalising (or, putting to use), his new animism/personhood research by engaging with selected Indigenous religious practices and perspectives in ways that emphasize their usefulness. Harvey’s research, along with that of scholars such as Nurit Bird-David have not only inspired new theoretical and methodological directions for researchers and students, particularly those from non-indigenous traditions, to re-think and structurally re-organise how we understand, approach, and address different (religious) worlds (including ‘Western’ ones). The chapter, therefore, engages with Harvey’s new animism research to advance methodological approaches about indigenous religions, rituals and religious material cultures more broadly, offering a Harvey-inspired material, methodological approach to ‘things’ as tangible/visible mediums on different ontological perspectives/religious worlds.

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