An Ecology of Religiosity

Re-emphasizing Relationships between Humans and Nonhumans


  • Gillian G. Tan Deakin University



Bateson, ecology, religiosity, Nature/Culture binary, human–nonhuman relationships, relational ontologies, Descola


A growing anthropological literature on how various groups of people relate with nonhuman Others has questioned the universality of the conceptual binary between Nature and Culture and, particularly, the usefulness of the concept of ‘Nature’ to an understanding of human–nonhuman relationships. In light of this, what then becomes of ecology? In particular, can we retain the crucial ecological notions of system and form while bypassing ‘Nature’? Drawing on Gregory Bateson’s ecology of mind, I suggest that this is possible as long as we focus on processes and relationships. Moreover, the kinds of processes and relationships that more clearly highlight this endeavor are those that are informed by religious thoughts and actions. I offer the term ‘an ecology of religiosity’ to outline how an overall focus on relationships may dissolve a priori distinctions between Nature and Culture while foregrounding the context in which relationships reshape themselves through religious forms.


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How to Cite

Tan, G. G. (2014). An Ecology of Religiosity: Re-emphasizing Relationships between Humans and Nonhumans. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 8(3), 307–328.