Lecture by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney (2010 and 2016 Paris IAS fellow) within the framework Laboratoire d'anthropologie sociale's internal seminar
This presentation offers a glimpse into the vast and complex topic of "Japanese nature" inhabited by the soul-bearing beings of the universe - plants, animals, and humans - some becoming deities. The most commonly chosen symbols of "Japanese nature" are mountains, trees, rocks, wind and water. I choose to focus rather on the symbolism of plants, animals and humans, with a special attention to their relation to the ground (jimen), which contrasts with "above the clouds" where the deities reside - a notion that has been used from the first myth-histories of the eighth century. The paper will be devoted to examining the sociopolitical contexts of these symbols and their meanings, a way to shed a light on the dialectic of ontology and political economy.
Philippe Descola will hold the discussion.