Animism and Totemism

Timothy Insoll

in The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199232444
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

Animism and Totemism

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The utility of the terms animism and totemism is questionable, and various anthropological observers have commented upon their problematical status and that of related terms such as ‘ancestor worship’ and ‘shamanism’. Their linkage with early evolutionary approaches to religion is undeniable. E. B. Tylor (1929) and Emile Durkheim (1915), respectively, proposed that animism and totemism were the primal forms of religion. Their thinking reflected the obsessive search for origins and the impact of evolutionary theory that was current in scholarship at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. This article focuses on the utilization and applicability of animism and totemism within archaeological contexts.

Keywords: archaeology; animism; totemism

Article.  6438 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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