K307 Elsi

Ecological solidarity as an avatar of Animist spirituality


Florent Kohler
Maylis Desrousseaux
Alexandra Langlais


Animism is a worldview of Siberian origin that diffused out in the Americas thousands of years ago. Shamanism is its main spiritual expression, but it is also perceptible in hunting and gathering practices. It relies on the idea that human and other living beings are societies related to each other, among which cooperation, reciprocity, but also wars and retaliations (e.g. because of overkilling) can happen. Animist peoples understand the world not as a hierarchy, but as constituted by different beings, and the shaman plays the role of an intermediary between these entities, thanks to his power of transformation and mental trips among the underworld of master-spirits. Thus, animist societies are generally recognizable because they do not, or only slightly, transform their environment. Unlike many other human societies and cultures, the search for balance, sobriety, and reciprocity are the condition for ensuring the survival of the Earth – the reason why biodiversity hotspots coincide with surviving animist societies. Our presentation will present these premises and explain how animist societies can inspire and help shaping the ecological solidarity concept, by considering the world as a network including human and natural beings (or better, “entities”). Indeed, solidarity, through reciprocity and sharing of food or space, is the cement that holds human and animal societies together.