The anthropology of ontology (religious science?)



Through engagement with a range of recent publications, this article offers a mini-ethnography of wonder discourses in the anthropology of ontology, leading to a rethink of the concept of religion. It has sometimes been suggested that science and religion are antithetical orientations to the experience of wonder: whereas science seeks to banish wonder by replacing it with knowledge, religion remains open to wonder in the face of the unknowable. With this criterion of difference in view, this article identifies certain trends in the anthropology of ontology that appear to enjoin and pursue open-ended wonder in ways that might be read as constituting anthropology as religious science. This coincidence of supposed opposites recommends, I conclude, a relational account of religion.