Original Research - Special Collection: SASRF What it means to be human?

Fossils and tombs and how they haunt us

Johann-Albrecht Meylahn
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 73, No 3 | a4494 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v73i3.4494 | © 2017 Johann-Albrecht Meylahn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 December 2016 | Published: 12 May 2017

About the author(s)

Johann-Albrecht Meylahn, Department Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Fossils and tombs in museums fascinate us and haunt us with their secrets. The discovery of the remains of Homo naledi, found, as argued by some, in an ancient burial chamber, promises to reveal secrets of an unremembered past, thus offering clues concerning our present-day humans and maybe influence our human future. The paper will not engage directly with what Homo naledi might contribute to the various science-religion and/or theology conversations but rather engage with the grammars of these conversations, by asking the question, why do tombs and fossils haunt us? This article will bring into the conversation Derrida’s interpretation on tombs and fossils, his hauntology, as well as the fascination with secrets. It will not offer an interpretation of Naledi, but rather ask the question why she inspires (haunts) the belief that she has something to offer the science-religion conversation (which I believe she does), or why she inspires the belief that such discoveries make no difference to the religious views on creation, for example. Whichever way, the dead, and specifically those dead to human memory, when ‘recalled’, haunt us and disturb us with their secrets.

Keywords

Homo Naledi; Derrida; hauntology; History; Anthropology

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