Shamanism I

So here it is, this is going to be my first article about a certain topic. As I started working on a presentation over the topic ”shamanism” I had a particular question in mind that I am about to ask you now: What have a book of an anthropologist, a female shaman in the trans-Himalayan region and a choosable avatar class in a MultiMassivOnlineRolePlayGame MMORPG like World of Warcraft in common?

These 3 images refer to a somehow defined term called ’shaman’.The first picture is a Book from Michael Harner, who earned his Master in Anthropology and conducted fieldwork in south America between the Jivaro people. Here he came in touch with a foreign way of thinking, that can be described as multi-perspectivism. [I will cover that topic in another Episode] Altogether he went native and started to identify himself with his new people. Harner has built a dominant network ever since.

  • In fieldwork there is a challenge a researcher has to face, he has to stay objective but at the same time, he has to interact on a subjective level with the surrounding entities.

The second picture is a depiction of a shaman as a playbeautiful-world-of-warcraft-wallpaper_044601197_250able class from the MMORPG World of Warcraft from the publisher Blizzard Entertainment. The game launched in 2004 and was for the most time one of the most played internet related games in the history of computer games. Since over 12 years with over 6 installments the franchise now recently launched an own movie and is going to be further a huge impact on popular media and everyday life of many people.

The third picture shows a female Bombo from the Tamang people in the Himalayan region. The Bombo, normally male healer figures, are concerned with the daily illness narratives of the people, while the Lamas, the Buddhist religious experts of the Tamang people, are concerned with dead and the afterworld.

I wanted to know what this construct of a shaman means, why it refers to so many different things, in fact, it means so many things, so many different groups which want to be called shamans and so many groups which don’t want to be called shamans that it doesn’t mean anything at all. This is what makes me curious and what drives me forward to research in, so here in this blog, I will show you what I found out about the topic.

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9 comments

    1. That’s a major point in discussing how to do good research in the field. On the one hand there is this holy grail of objectivity, which can never be attained, because every person is located at a certain place and date. On the other hand you are supposed to engage with the people that can be only attained through personal, subjective interaction. There is a fine line a researcher has to be aware of, where he or she can conduct fieldwork

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    1. I think that way too. The north american natives are being seen in public discourse as shamans, that’s what I wanted to say, it is not there own terminology, but nonetheless if you talk to people about the american natives a lot of them would refer to their medical and religious system as ”shamanic”. On the other hand there are people claiming that name for themselves like the Tuva people of syberia. This is not an easy topic but I will cover it in another episode

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