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Dark Shamans-PBby Neil L. Whitehead
Synopses & Reviews
On the little-known and darker side of shamanism there exists an ancient form of sorcery called kanaimandagrave;, a practice still observed among the Amerindians of the highlands of Guyana, Venezuela, and Brazil that involves the ritual stalking, mutilation, lingering death, and consumption of human victims. At once a memoir of cultural encounter and an ethnographic and historical investigation, this book offers a sustained, intimate look at kanaimandagrave;, its practitioners, their victims, and the reasons they give for their actions.
Neil L. Whitehead tells of his own involvement with kanaimandagrave;andmdash;including an attempt to kill him with poisonandmdash;and relates the personal testimonies of kanaimandagrave; shamans, their potential victims, and the victimsandrsquo; families. He then goes on to discuss the historical emergence of kanaimandagrave;, describing how, in the face of successive modern colonizing forcesandmdash;missionaries, rubber gatherers, miners, and development agenciesandmdash;the practice has become an assertion of native autonomy. His analysis explores the ways in which kanaimandagrave; mediates both national and international impacts on native peoples in the region and considers the significance of kanaimandagrave; for current accounts of shamanism and religious belief and for theories of war and violence.
Kanaimandagrave; appears here as part of the wider lexicon of rebellious terror and exotic horrorandmdash;alongside the cannibal, vampire, and zombieandmdash;that haunts the western imagination. Dark Shamans broadens discussions of violence and of the representation of primitive savagery by recasting both in the light of current debates on modernity and globalization.
"Ethnographer Neil L. Whitehead enters this realm of reality and mythology, of storytelling and firsthand experience by accident, and his opening tale sustains the horror-filled storytelling power characteristic of such authors as Bram Stoker and Stephen King. As such, the kanaima, long known to explorers, poets, and ordinary people of northeastern South America, take their place in the history of modernity along with Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man."--Norman Whitten, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Uses an ethnographic example of ritual violence to illuminate cultural expression more widely and thereby reformulate anthropological and historical approaches to warfare and violence.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -298) and index.
About the Author
Neil L. Whitehead is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is the author and editor of numerous books, most recently Beyond the Visible and the Material: The Amerindianization of Society in the Work of Peter Riviandegrave;re (coedited with Laura Rival) and War in the Tribal Zone: Expanding States and Indigenous Warfare (coedited with R. B. Ferguson). He is the editor of the journal Ethnohistory.
Table of Contents
1. The Ethnographer's Tale 11
2. Tales of the Kanaima: Observers 41
3. Tales of the Kanaima: Participants 88
4. Shamanic Warfare 128
5. Modernity, Development, and Kanaima Violence 174
6. Ritual Violence and Magical Death in Amazonia 202
Conclusion: Anthropologies of Violence 245
Works Cited 285
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