THE PRIMAL METAPHYSICS OF BECOMING-ANIMAL DURING THE CHASING HUNT IN THE KALAHARI DESERT
This dissertation inquiry is a philosophical reading of hunter-gatherer perspectives on the mutability of ontological boundaries between humans and other-than-humans in southern Africa. It explores how the cosmologies and epistemologies of the San Bushmen reinforce ontological ambiguity. My inquiry pays specific attention to the religious and cosmological origins of becoming-animal during the chasing hunt through a decolonial interpretation of Primal metaphysics. Furthermore, my inquiry seeks to understand how ritualizing the practice of becoming-animal reinforces the San Bushmen's environmental heritage. A chasing hunt is a form of hunting that requires physical, emotional, and mental preparation on behalf of the hunter, whose consciousness, during the hunt, converges with that of the hunted other. My inquiry suggests that this form of metaphysical interaction fosters a relational ontology between the San Bushmen and their environment by embracing multiple ways of being in the world. By comparative analysis, my inquiry aims to bring the metaphysics of the chasing hunt into conversation with the study of religion and ecology. My analysis brings philosophers Giles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, and comparative religious scholar Arvind Sharma into dialogue with San Bushmen studies' anthropological and ethnographic legacy. This analysis demonstrates that the chasing hunt enforces a somatic reading of one's ecological environment that results in becoming a part of that environment. I interpret this process of becoming as a ritual practice associated with hunting, the metaphysics of which construct a Primal form of eco-religious practice. My analysis concludes that in losing the ability to practice the chasing hunt that the San Bushmen are losing a vital part of their relationship to place, a relationship that has reinforced Earth-centered cosmologies, epistemologies, and ontologies for tens of thousands of years in the Kalahari Desert. Taking the above into account, I ask the reader to contemplate: what the loss of these ways of being in the world can teach the postmodern human about our ontological relationship to the current environmental crisis.