Shared Breath : Human and Nonhuman Copresence through Ritualized Words and Beyond

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Siragusa , L , Westman , C & Moritz , S 2020 , ' Shared Breath : Human and Nonhuman Copresence through Ritualized Words and Beyond ' , Current Anthropology , vol. 61 , no. 4 , pp. 471-494 . https://doi.org/10.1086/710139

Title: Shared Breath : Human and Nonhuman Copresence through Ritualized Words and Beyond
Author: Siragusa, Laura; Westman, Clinton; Moritz, Sarah
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Area and Cultural Studies
Date: 2020-08-01
Language: eng
Number of pages: 24
Belongs to series: Current Anthropology
ISSN: 0011-3204
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/333864
Abstract: We introduce and elaborate on the notion of "shared breath" as a way of understanding human and nonhuman copresence and offer descriptions and narratives about three Indigenous groups in Russia and Canada, namely, Veps, Western Woods Cree, and Interior Salish St'at'imc. These data illustrate vividly how the underused metaphor of shared breath sheds light on active participation in life by and respectful relations with nonhuman beings, thus surpassing other overly used spatial, physical, and spiritual metaphors. We move beyond the physical aspects of discrete spaces and materials in extending consideration to pertinent metaphorical and tangible aspects of the verbal, sonorous, and ritual performances undertaken by humans in order to negotiate and reinforce relations with other beings. Relationality is continuously accommodated and regenerated by human and nonhuman agencies through ritual acts that include blowing, chants, breathing, drumming, visualizing, and smoking. The shared breath through which these encounters take place emblematizes turning moments, when new directions may be taken and long-term relations of respect may be established, validated, and reinforced. Shared breath is both a medium and a modality of shamanic and animist relationality, offering a new way of looking at human-nonhuman contact and exchange in animist ritual contexts and beyond.
Subject: ANIMALS
ANTHROPOLOGY
BEAR
CANADA
INUIT
KNOWLEDGE
MATERIALITY
ONTOLOGY
POWER
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
5143 Social and cultural anthropology
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