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WildnessRelations of People and Place$
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Gavin Van Horn and John Hausdoerffer

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226444666

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226444970.001.0001

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The Whiskered God of Filth

The Whiskered God of Filth

(p.189) 19 The Whiskered God of Filth

Rob Dunn

University of Chicago Press

This chapter highlights cultural systems in Ghana in which beliefs about animal gods have led to the preservation of certain areas of forest habitat. These sacred groves, scattered across West Africa, are the domain of deified black-and-white colobus monkeys and are “spiritual connections to wildness” as well as a functional, traditional means of land conservation. The chapter discusses other types of “groves” in which vital ecosystem processes are preserved due to their sacred status. The chapter notes the vital recycling role that decomposers play, concluding with the assertion that if any creatures are worthy of god-like status, it is these decomposers—such as catfish, vultures, maggots, termites, dung beetles, bacteria, and fungi—through whom everything is reborn and becomes wild again.

Keywords:   sacred groves, black-and-white colobus monkeys, Ghana, West Africa, decomposition, wild rebirth, animal gods

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