Animism in a Planetary Frame

deadline for submissions: 
September 23, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
ACLA Annual Meeting, Utrecht, July 6-9 2017
contact email: 

Animism has been making something of a comeback. While animism remains an umbrella term for a range of local practices which invest non-human matter with spirit, recent work (Garuba, Harvey, Rooney, Taussig, Vivieros de Castro) has emphasised this investment as a relational way of being with “other-than-human persons.” In light of our growing—if continually disavowed—awareness of ecological crisis, the purpose of this panel is to suggest that “new animism” has an insistently “planetary” (Spivak, Wenzel) or “cosmopolitical” (Stengers) bearing. If the range of contributors to a special issue of e-flux on animism (2012)—literary theorists, art historians, anthropologists, archaeologists and philosophers of science—suggests that animism is no longer confined to the annals of colonial history, we ask: to what extent is animist relationality a vital part of a truly cosmopolitical approach to all life forms, in the wake of the Anthropocene?

What is at stake in this renewed interest in animism? Can we speak of a “we” that is finally beginning to learn from indigenous beliefs and practices how to undo human exceptionalism and enter into new, post-sovereign modes of relation? Or is the “new animism” simply the symptom of the Western academy’s desire to circumvent its own implication in global practices of exploitation? The organisers would be interested in all aspects of planetary animism, but areas of particular interest would include:

Local and planetary animisms

Comparative animisms

Animism and the creaturely

Animist materialism and its relation to historical materialism

Animist ecologies

Animism and psychoanalysis

The animist artwork

Reification and dereification, animation and deanimation

Dispersed subjectivities and exteriorised spirits/souls


Interested participants should contact the organisers at or Abstracts will need to be submitted via the ACLA online portal by Sept 23rd.