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Book: Ritual, Personhood and the New Animism

Chapter: Harebrained?

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.45199


This article briefly explores the European hare’s folkloric associations with impulsive behaviour, incandescence, and osseous growth. A playful romp through the physical and behavioural qualities attributed to hares sees these creatures as embodying a particular “life in the head”, a generative potency closely linked with semen, marrow and the brain, and giving rise to animate form. Animal symbolism is thus shown to lift our closest other-than-humans out of generic otherness by providing them not so much with individual personhood as with distinctive personalities as representatives of peculiar kinds of being. Such an emblematic recognition of animals, it is argued, can inspire a measure of what Graham Harvey, in a recent attempt to identify “religion” with immediate everyday concerns, has called an etiquette of interspecies relationality” (2013: 215) in which recognition of alterity and likeness go hand in hand.

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