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New Animism and Alter-Native Modernities

20th October 2015
For many years indigenous forms of knowledge were treated by Western scholars as “mistaken epistemologies,” i.e., as un-scientific, irrational folklore and childish worldviews. This old view of animism was a product of the evolutionist and anthropocentric worldview of the Enlightenment. However within the framework of ecological humanities, current interest in posthumanism, postsecularism and discussions on building altermodernity (Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri), indigenous thought is used to critique modern epistemology and develop alternatives to the Western worldview. Treating native thought as equivalent to Western knowledge will be presented here as a (potentially) decolonizing and liberating practice. The concept of alter-native modernities, emerging from indigenous ways of being in the world, will be explored as one response to the challenges to Euromodernity. The investigation will compare literature on indigenous cultures from Latin America, Africa and East-Central Europe. Following recent works by anthropologists and archaeologists such as Nurit Bird-Rose, Philippe Descola, Graham Harvey, Tim Ingold and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, new animism will be treated as a relational ontology enabling rethinking of the question of relations between human and non-humans, going beyond human exceptionalism.


Prof. Dr. Ewa Domanska

Permanent Professor at the Department of History at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland and Visiting Associate Professor at the Anthropology Department at Stanford University California, USA

Main Research Interests

  • Comparative Theory of the Human and Social Sciences 
  • Contemporary Theory and History of Historiography
  • Posthumanities 

Publications (selected)

  • Existential History. Critical Approach to Narrativism and Emancipatory Humanities. Warszawa: PWN, 2012.
  • Unconventional Histories. Reflections on the Past in the New Humanities. Poznan: Wydawnictwo Poznanskie, 2006.