Anthropology of Shamanism

3 credits


College of Arts and Science

(cross-leveled with ANTHRO 7385). Shamans are considered to be intermediates between this world and the spiritual world because they possess the power to communicate with spiritual beings and seek such beings to ask for their help with a variety of tasks such as healing, killing enemies, and weather control. Shamans are also the earliest ritual practitioners. Ancient cave paintings depict men dressed in animal skins, holding objects resembling the rattles used by modern shamans among northern hunting peoples. The cave art also has entopic imagery that is seen in the shaman’s mind during his shamanic rituals. In this course we will look at shamanism through time and in many cultures. We will also discuss the early accounts of shamanism by priests, explorers and adventurers, and how anthropology has come to understand and study this phenomenon. Particular topics to be discussed include biological explanations for shamanic trances and visions, mental health concerning shamans, gender issues, and how shamans fit in with societal development and complexity. Graded on A-F basis only.