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California Institute of Integral Studies

2013

Anthropology

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Belief Is Not Experience: Transformation As A Tool For Bridging The Ontological Divide In Anthropological Research And Reporting, Bonnie Glass-Coffin Jan 2013

Belief Is Not Experience: Transformation As A Tool For Bridging The Ontological Divide In Anthropological Research And Reporting, Bonnie Glass-Coffin

International Journal of Transpersonal Studies

For more than a hundred years, anthropologists have recorded stories of beliefs in other-than-human sentience and consciousness, yet we have most frequently insisted on contextualizing these stories in terms of cultural, epistemological, or ontological relativism. In this paper, I ask why we have had such a hard time taking reports of unseen realms seriously and describe the transformative role of personal experience as a catalyst for change in anthropological research and reporting.