God and the Anthropologist

The Ontological Turn and Human-Oriented Anthropology

  • Albert Piette Centre for Ethnology and Comparative Sociology (CNRS), Paris West University Nanterre
Keywords: ontology, existence, gods, observation, anthropology, existential, human, catholicism


The article aims to be theoretical, and to consider the impact of the word "ontology" in anthropology. I will start from an observation of religious worship, in which at least humans, various objects and a divinity are present, as well as actions, movements, statements, perceptions and various thoughts. I shall then try to use the word "ontology" on at least two different levels: on the one hand, to describe entities, the presence of which must be assumed if the situation is to remain consistent, and on the other hand, to focus on what really exists, beyond what people do and say. Finally, I will explore the advantage of this "realist" point of view.

Author Biography

Albert Piette, Centre for Ethnology and Comparative Sociology (CNRS), Paris West University Nanterre

Albert Piette is Professor of anthropology and researcher at the Centre for Ethnology and Comparative Sociology (CNRS) at Paris West University Nanterre. He is the author of over fi fteen books, dedicated to epistemology and the observation of details, religious phenomena, rituals and mourning. In his last books (Anthropologie existentiale 2009; Fondements à une anthropologie des hommes 2011; De l’ontologie en anthropologie 2012; Contre le relationnisme 2014), he elaborates an existential anthropology, focusing on the phenomenography of human presences. Albert Piette currently prepares two books in English: Existence in the Details. Theory and Methodology in Existential Anthropology (Berlin, Duncker & Humblot) and, in  collaboration with Michal Jackson, What is Existential Anthropology? (New York, Berghahn).

How to Cite
Piette, Albert. 2015. “God and the Anthropologist: The Ontological Turn and Human-Oriented Anthropology”. TSANTSA – Journal of the Swiss Anthropological Association 20 (May):97-107. https://doi.org/10.36950/tsantsa.2015.20.7436.