Exhibiting Gaian Animism By Prof. Bron Taylor (University of Florida) 23.04.2024

Exhibiting Gaian Animism: How Curators Are Fusing Esotericism, Science, Spirituality, and Promoting Environmental Conservation, at Art & Science Museums Around the World


In recent decades scholars from diverse disciplines in the Arts and Sciences have been advancing what I call Gaian Animism, namely, animistic spiritualities, kinship feelings toward non-human organisms, and eco-organicist/Gaian worldviews, in order to promote proenvironmental attitudes and behaviors. With evidence from Europe, Africa, and the Americas, I provide photographs and video excerpts from such venues to argue that curators at many of the world’s museums, while sometimes influenced by such scholars, have become influential promoters of such ‘dark green’ nature spiritualities, values, and behaviors. By so doing they provide paths to spirituality, meaning, and purpose that are especially relevant for those who have left behind the world’s still predominant religions. These venues offer religious forms that echo some longstanding religious and mystical perceptions –they also often and increasingly expressing appreciation for and spiritual affinity with indigenous religious traditions –while enriching and reinforcing such perceptions and values with scientific understandings. These spaces also function as shrines and pilgrimage sites for whose sharing deep feelings of belonging and connection to nature, and who are themselves seeking to find pathways between their own mystical connections to nature and their respect for the sciences.


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