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Rethinking Animism: Thoughts from the Infancy of Our Discipline
Martin D. Stringer
The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Vol. 5, No. 4 (Dec., 1999), pp. 541-555
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2661147
Page Count: 15
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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.
The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute © 1999 Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland