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Avatar and Nature Spirituality

Edited by Bron Taylor
Subjects Religion, Environmental Studies, Film & Media
Series Environmental Humanities Hide Details
Paperback : 9781554588435, 378 pages, August 2013
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554588817, 378 pages, August 2013
Ebook (PDF) : 9781554588800, 378 pages, August 2013

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Avatar and Nature Spirituality edited by Bron Taylor
Prologue: Avatar as Rorschach | Bron Taylor
Introduction: The Religion and Politics of Avatar | Bron Taylor
Avatar: Ecorealism and the Blockbuster Melodrama | Stephen Rust
Outer Space Religion and the Ambiguous Nature of Avatar's Pandora | Thore Bjørnvig
Avatar Fandom, Environmentalism, and Nature Religion | Britt Istoft
Post-Pandoran Depression or Na'vi Sympathy: Avatar, Affect, and Audience Reception | Matthew Holtmeier
Transposing the Conversation into Popular Idiom: The reaction to Avatar in Hawai'i | Rachelle K. Gould, Nicole M. Ardoin, and Jennifer Kamakanipakolonahe'okekai Hashimoto
Watching Avatar from "AvaTar Sands" Land | Randolph Haluza-Delay, Michael P. Ferber, and Tim Wiebe-Neufeld
Becoming the "Noble Savage": Nature Religion and the "Other" in Avatar | Chris Klassen
The Na'vi as Spiritual Hunters: A Semiotic Exploration | Pat Munday
Calling the Na'vi: Evolutionary Jungian Psychology and Nature Spirits | Bruce MacLennan
Avatar and Artemis: Indigenous Narratives as Neo-Romantic Environmental Ethics | Joy H. Greenberg
Spirituality and Resistance: Avatar Ursula Le Guin's The Word for World Is Forest | David Landis Barnhill
I See You: Interspecies Empathy and Avatar | Lisa H. Sideris
Knowing Pandora in Sound: Acoustemology and Ecomusicological Imagination in Cameron's Avatar | Michael B. MacDonald
Works of Doubt and Leaps of Faith: An Augustinian Challenge to Planetary Resilience | Jacob von Heland and Sverker Sørlin
Epilogue: Truth and Fiction in Avatar's Cosmogony and Nature Religion | Bron Taylor
Afterword: Considering the Legacies of Avatar | Daniel Heath Justice


Avatar and Nature Spirituality explores the cultural and religious significance of James Cameron's film Avatar (2010), one of the most commercially successful motion pictures of all time. Its success was due in no small measure to the beauty of the Pandora landscape and the dramatic, heart-wrenching plight of its nature-venerating inhabitants. To some audience members, the film was inspirational, leading them to express affinity with the film's message of ecological interdependence and animistic spirituality. Some were moved to support the efforts of indigenous peoples, who were metaphorically and sympathetically depicted in the film, to protect their cultures and environments. To others, the film was politically, ethically, or spiritually dangerous. Indeed, the global reception to the film was intense, contested, and often confusing.
To illuminate the film and its reception, this book draws on an interdisciplinary team of scholars, experts in indigenous traditions, religious studies, anthropology, literature and film, and post-colonial studies. Readers will learn about the cultural and religious trends that gave rise to the film and the reasons these trends are feared, resisted, and criticized, enabling them to wrestle with their own views, not only about the film but about the controversy surrounding it. Like the film itself, Avatar and Nature Spirituality provides an opportunity for considering afresh the ongoing struggle to determine how we should live on our home planet, and what sorts of political, economic, and spiritual values and practices would best guide us.


If, as ecocinema scholar Adrian Ivakhiv suggests, a film is not only what happens between the dimming and brightening of theatre lights, if it is also what happens in our discussions about it, then this collection brilliantly takes the measure of the conversations surrounding the highest-grossing blockbuster of all time. Better still, the book draws you back into the dialogue, and asks you to reconsider what you think you know about a film so provocative that it has taken centre-stage in the global imagination.

- Joni Adamson, Arizona State University, co-editor of American Studies, Ecocriticism and Citizenship: Thinking and Acting in the Local and Global Commons