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Multiplicity Without Myth: Theorising Darhad Perspectivism

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What would an animist ontology look like if there were no mythology to prop it up? Based partly on the Darhad hunting lore about badagshin or ‘half-people’, this article argues that myth is not a precondition for perspectivism. It is possible to conceive of an animist cosmos that is thoroughlymultiple, but at the same time amythological. Thus the Darhads do not entertain ideas of an original state of undifferentiation, in the sense of a truer form of existence that people (such as shamans) aspire to become a part of. Instead, they operate with a different concept of virtuality, namely the great nomadic void that constitutes a background potentiality, which plays the role of an ontological trampoline making possible the ongoing jumping between different realms, which Darhad social life amounts to. In that sense, the Darhad perspectivist cosmos comprises not one unified whole containing all there is, but many parallel worlds, each containing the totality of relations enacted through a given point of view.


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