Some turns in a ‘journey to the West’: Cosmological proliferation in an anthropology of Eurasia

by Wang Mingming

09 Oct 2017
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Full text posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 5, pp. 201-250.

Abstract: In Eurasia, cosmological traditions have been at the same time different and related as well as ‘similar’. Furthermore, the hierarchy of the so-called great and little traditions seen as making up the landscape of Eurasian cosmologies is reversible over time, with the little traditions—whose ‘life-giving myths’ and ‘animism’ have made the social anthropologies of the South (e.g., Australia, South America, and Melanesia) and the North (e.g., the frontiers of the Arctic Circle and Siberia) relevant to those of the East and West—the more resilient.

Keywords: cosmology, social anthropology, history, great and little traditions, inter-civilisational interactions, Eurasia.

Radcliffe-Brown Lecture in Social Anthropology, read 29 March 2017

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