Animism, fetishism, and objectivism as strategies for knowing (or not knowing) the world
Summary, in English
Animistic or 'relational' ontologies encountered in non-Western (i.e. premodern) settings pose a challenge to Western (i.e. modern) knowledge production, as they violate fundamentalassumptions of Cartesian science. Naturalscientists who have tried seriously to incorporate subject-subject relations into their intellectual practice (e.g. Uexküll, Bateson) have inexorably been relegated to the margins. Surrounded by philosophers and sociologists of science (e.g. Latour) announcing the end of Cartesian objectivism, however,late modern or 'post-modern' anthropologists discussing animistic understandings of nature will be excused for taking them more seriously than their predecessors. It is incumbent on them to analytically sort out what epistemological options there are, and to ask why pre-modern, modern, and post-modern people will tend to deal with culture/nature or subject/object hybridity in such different ways. Animism, fetishism, and objectivism can be understood as alternative responses to universal semiotic anxieties about where or how to draw boundaries between persons and things.