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Commodities in Cultural Perspective.

The application of the term animism no longer depends on notions about “spirits” or “supernatural” entities. It has been found helpful in drawing attention to ontologies and epistemologies in which life is encountered in a wide community of persons only some of whom are human. Certainly this new usage shares with Tylor’s discussion a concern with materiality and, in this, links animism to wider contestations, for example, about environmentalism and the dichotomous opposition of culture and nature. In the language of classical European philosophy “person” refers principally to humans and deity. At various times, the question of the personhood of particular groups of humans (Africans and women in particular) has been problematic (e.g., in debates about the recognition and increasing application of human rights). Other beings (animals especially) are problematic in as much as some might be more or less like humans in particular ways (e.g., the feeling of pain, the use of language, or some indicator of intellect or agency) that seem to some theorists to justify the recognition of personhood and thus the extension or recognition of rights. Similarly, Piaget’s approach to childhood development