Show Summary Details
Page of

Indigenous spiritualities 

Indigenous spiritualities
Indigenous spiritualities

Graham Harvey

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD MEDICINE ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Medicine Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 01 July 2022

This chapter surveys some of the key themes in contemporary indigenous spiritualities that aid an understanding of the broader complexes of indigenous knowledges. It draws on themes and practices from indigenous cultures in most continents, but it insists that indigenous knowledge prioritizes the specific and local over the general and global. This is not to say that indigenous people are trapped by small scale myopia and have nothing to say of international or global import. On the contrary, it is to insist that rootedness and belonging, specificity and emplacement, are key features of the urgent messages offered by many indigenous communities to their neighbours. The key themes focused upon here have been the relational nature of personhood and the world (as community), the centrality of dwelling or emplacement, the necessity of respect among citizens of the larger-than-human community of which human persons are members, and the generative power of gifts and gifting, rituals, and etiquette. Greater understanding of indigenous spirituality requires some odd uses of seemingly familiar terms (such as person as a reference to animals, plants and rocks) and some learning of indigenous terms. Attention to indigenous protocols, including the centrality of ritual and oratory (‘myth-telling’ perhaps) may immediately challenge the norms of dominant Euro-global ‘most-modern’ culture, but promise to enrich the lives of those who make the effort as well as serving the needs of indigenous people in their many and varied circumstances. Much of importance in all these domains is far better represented in the many excellent indigenous novels, plays, films, and cultural performances than in academic, political or legal documents. These convey more fully both the negative (anger and horror) and the positive (humour and passion) of indigenous experiences that inform and erupt into contemporary indigenous spiritualities.

Access to the complete content on Oxford Medicine Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.