Reconfigure the living
From organisms to artifacts
House posts where the presence of the ancestors is embodied, drums animated by a breath, hungry canoes, wooden figurines of unequal longevity, fetishes involved in the process of growth, necklaces endowed with speech, decorated and animated skulls of the deceased, stuffed animals with keen eyes that leap into museums: here are the intriguing encounters to which these Cahiers invite to better understand why human societies consider objects as living. Several dynamics are at work. First of all, vitality comes from material elements of organisms, plants and animals, which technical processes preserve by producing artefacts. At another level, this vitality concerns the interactions of these artefacts with their natural and social environment. Through a range of ethnographic examples relating to the material culture of several parts of the world – the Americas, Africa, Oceania and Europe – the authors explore how humans reconfigure the living, taking into account the multiple modalities of figuration as much as the powers of the invisible.