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HomeBernie Sanders4/27 News Roundup & Open Thread – Sanders: “I Will Not Be A Part Of A Road Show For The White House” & ‘Quist Gains Momentum’
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Don midwest
Don midwest

There was an article posted today on the barbaric actions of the French in Algeria.
I knew that it was bad, but I didn’t know that it resulted in the death of a million people and the destruction of the culture and history, like all the libraries.

Dear Marine Le Pen: Only a Fascist would Praise Colonialism . . . Oh Wait:

Marine Le Pen’s declaration that colonialism was a positive thing is not only a denial of France’s painful history, but an example of the fascism that we now face in Europe.

This has relevance as Trump praises her and proves that he is a fascist also.

As you know, I am fixated on Bruno Latour, the French polymath. I went searching for some of his writings on colonization which are found in many places in his work. I also know that in other places he is working our how the moderns, that is us, do not live in either space or time.

With Native Americans on the warpath, e.g., war dances in the headquarters of the banks in NYC, the natives are connecting us with the past which has never been the past and thus show another example of temporarily. I will link to two more articles neither of which are by Bruno Latour, but found on a search with his name. Here is the first:

The question of temporality has always been central to the narrative and ethos of modernity, and the consolidation and dissemination of a linear conception of time has been one of its enduring successes. While globalization and the migrations and mobilities it has set in motion may be unscrambling in social and geographical space the spatialization that anchored this conception of time and temporal relations, the teleological imaginary of time unfolding in a linear manner remains. We may no longer use overtly optimistic terms such as “progress” and “civilization,” or the more derogatory “savage,” but we have found various synonyms for them.

If the new convergence of interest in animism is to bear any advantage for those on the other side of modernity, it is here that we should begin with a conception of time that rejects linearity but recognizes the complex embeddedness of different temporalities, different, discordant discursive formations, and different epistemological perspectives within the same historical moment. And then we should search for a language to represent this knowledge.

The article begins with

How do we account for the recent resurgence of interest in animism and animist thought? Once considered a kind of cognitive error, as evidence of cognitive underdevelopment and epistemological failure, animism has once again become an object of discursive attention and intellectual inquiry, in addition to serving as a platform for political action, particularly around issues of ecology and the environment. It has become an acceptable if not entirely respectable way of knowing and acting in the world. Although E. B. Tylor’s nineteenth-century definition of the concept has remained foundational, we have come a long way from the modernist understanding of it which Emile Durkheim summed up in these words:

For Tylor, this extension of animism was due to the particular mentality of the primitive, who, like an infant, cannot distinguish the animate and the inanimate. […] Now the primitive thinks like a child. Consequently, he is also inclined to endow all things, even inanimate ones, with a nature analogous to his own.3

This new interest has overturned the old prejudice which equated animism with everything that was childlike and epistemologically challenged, everything that was the negation of the mature, the modern, and the civilized.

On Animism, Modernity/Colonialism, and the African Order of Knowledge: Provisional Reflections

Now on to the second article. This one is by an indigenous woman who criticizes the Great Bruno Latour by not referencing the indigenous people themselves, but by putting his discourse in European terms while linking to indigenous people.

An Indigenous Feminist’s take on the Ontological Turn: ‘ontology’ is just another word for colonialism (Urbane Adventurer: Amiskwacî)

Personal paradigm shifts have a way of sneaking up on you. It started, innocently enough, with a trip to Edinburgh to see the great Latour discuss his latest work in February 2013. I was giddy with excitement: a talk by the Great Latour. Live and in colour! In his talk, on that February night, he discussed the climate as sentient. Funny, I thought, this sounds an awful lot like the little bit of Inuit cosmological thought I have been taught by Inuit friends. I waited, through the whole talk, to hear the Great Latour credit Indigenous thinkers for their millennia of engagement with sentient environments, with cosmologies that enmesh people into complex relationships between themselves and all relations.

It never came. He did not mention Inuit. Or Anishinaabe. Or Nehiyawak. Or any Indigenous thinkers at all. In fact, he spent a great deal of time interlocuting with a Scottish thinker, long dead. And with Gaia.

I left the hall early, before the questions were finished. I was unimpressed. Again, I thought with a sinking feeling in my chest, it appeared that the so-called Ontological Turn was spinning itself on the backs of non-european thinkers. And, again, the ones we credited for these incredible insights into the ‘more-than-human’, and sentience and agency, were not the people who built and maintain the knowledge systems that european and north american anthropologists and philosophers have been studying for well over a hundred years, and predicating their current ‘aha’ ontological moment upon. No, here we were celebrating and worshipping a european thinker for ‘discovering’ what many an Indigenous thinker around the world could have told you for millennia. The climate is sentient!

So, again, I was just another inconvenient Indigenous body in a room full of people excited to hear a white guy talk around Indigenous thought without giving Indigenous people credit. Doesn’t this feel familiar, I thought.


hmmm. i can see both sides. i was an animist when i was pretty tiny, and hadn’t heard the indigenous cultural stories yet, but I can see how if I were to make money or gain fame on similar beliefs, I would want to at least say something like, “I want to recognize everyone who has influenced me, especially the indigenous people of the world (and any other group, or individual indigenous and other people). IIRC, he does cite sources in his papers. Hopefully he gives a nod to the more general sources, as well. And by the time you’ve immersed yourself in this field of study, yes, you would have many, many sources to thank!

And yes, she is right, that tribal cultures worldwide incorporated much more animism and respect for nature than other cultures. Now I’m thinking, though. Before caucasians “found God” and manifest destiny, we were also in more tribal groupings–thinking Celts, Druids, others. Now I’m curious as to when and where many of our ancestors started the slide towards seeing nature as a thing to be conquered, as well as other people. And I’m curious as to whether, when tribes fought, did they ever try to completely assimilate the other tribe?