Shamanism in Eurasia

A Mongolian case study in a comparative light

Authored by: Morten Axel Pedersen

Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia

Print publication date:  September  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415635035
eBook ISBN: 9781315758534
Adobe ISBN: 9781317636465


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Many scholars and laymen associate shamans with Mongolia and Siberia. Yet, while the ethnographic literature on Eurasian shamanism is indeed substantial, few attempts have been made to compare and synthesise it with anthropological scholarship of shamanism from elsewhere in the world like the influential studies by Michael Taussig (1987) and Anna Tsing (1993). This is both ironic and unfortunate. It is ironic since the term ‘shaman’ supposedly came from the Tungus-Manchurian term saman, which, at least according to Eliade’s controversial thesis (1964), constituted a shamanic ur-form. But the relative paucity of modern anthropological studies of Eurasian shamanism is also unfortunate from a more general disciplinary perspective. Not only is the extraordinary ethnographic richness and resilience of these beliefs and practices documented for future generations of scholars; studying them also has the potential for making a theoretical contribution to anthropology as a whole.

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