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1 Burnside Anthropology- Central and South America

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In Darkness and Secrecy: The Anthropology of Assault Sorcery and Witchcraft in Amazonia


In Darkness and Secrecy: The Anthropology of Assault Sorcery and Witchcraft in Amazonia Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In Darkness and Secrecy brings together ethnographic examinations of Amazonian assault sorcery, witchcraft, and injurious magic, or andldquo;dark shamanism.andrdquo; Anthropological reflections on South American shamanism have tended to emphasize shamansandrsquo; healing powers and positive influence. This collection challenges that assumption by showing that dark shamans are, in many Amazonian cultures, quite different from shamanic healers and prophets. Assault sorcery, in particular, involves violence resulting in physical harm or even death. While highlighting the distinctiveness of such practices, In Darkness and Secrecy reveals them as no less relevant to the continuation of culture and society than curing and prophecy. The contributors suggest that the persistence of dark shamanism can be understood as a form of engagement with modernity.

These essays, by leading anthropologists of South American shamanism, consider assault sorcery as it is practiced in parts of Brazil, Guyana, Venezuela, and Peru. They analyze the social and political dynamics of witchcraft and sorcery and their relation to cosmology, mythology, ritual, and other forms of symbolic violence and aggression in each society studied. They also discuss the relations of witchcraft and sorcery to interethnic contact and the ways that shamanic power may be co-opted by the state. In Darkness and Secrecy includes reflections on the ethical and practical implications of ethnographic investigation of violent cultural practices.

Contributors. Dominique Buchillet, Carlos Fausto, Michael Heckenberger, Elsje Lagrou, E. Jean Langdon, George Mentore, Donald Pollock, Fernando Santos-Granero, Pamela J. Stewart, Andrew Strathern, Mandaacute;rnio Teixeira-Pinto, Silvia Vidal, Neil L. Whitehead, Johannes Wilbert, Robin Wright


Ethnographic study of shamanism in lowland South America, analyzing the relations between the social, political, and historical dynamics of witchcraft and sorcery.

About the Author

Neil L. Whitehead is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Among his most recent books are Dark Shamans: Kanaimandagrave; and the Poetics of Violent Death (published by Duke University Press) and Beyond the Visible and the Material: The Amerindianization of Society in the Work of Peter Riviandegrave;re (coedited with Laura Rival).

Robin Wright is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Research in Indigenous Ethnology at the Universidade Estadual de Campinas in Brazil. He is the author of Cosmos, Self, and History in Baniwa Religion: For Those Unborn and the editor of several books in Spanish.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Dark Shamanism / Neil L. Whitehead and Robin Wright 1

The Order of Dark Shamans among the Warao / Johannes Wilbert 21

Dark Shamans and the Shamanic State: Sorcery and Witchcraft as Political Process in Guyana and the Venezuelan Amazon / Silvia Vidal and Neil L. Whitehead 51

The Wicked and the Wise Men: Witches and Prophets in the History of the Northwest Amazon / Robin Wright 82

Sorcery Beliefs, Transmissions of Shamanic Knowledge, and Therapeutic Practice among the Desana of the Upper Rio Negro Region, Brazil / Dominique Buchillet 109

The Glorious Tyranny of Silence and the Resonance of Shamanic Breath / George Mentore 132

A Blend of Blood and Tobacco: Shamans and Jaguars among the Parakana of Eastern Amazonia / Carlos Fausto 157

The Wars Within: Xinguano Witchcraft and Balance of Power / Michael Heckenberger 179

Siblings and Sorcerers: The Paradox of Kinship among the Kulina / Donald Pollock 202

Being Alone amid Others: Sorcery and Morality among the Arara, Carib, Brazil / Marnio Teixeira-Pinto 215

Sorcery and Shamanism in Cashinahua Discourse and Praxis, Purus River, Brazil / Elsje Lagrou 244

The Enemy Within: Child Sorcery, Revolution, and the Evils of Modernization in Eastern Peru / Fernando Santos-Granero 272

Commentary / E. Jean Langdon 306

Afterword: Substances, Powers, Cosmos, and History / Andrew Strathern and Pamela J. Stewart 314

Contributors 321

Index 324

Product Details

Whitehead, Neil L.
Wright, Robin
Whitehead, Neil L.
Wright, Robin
Neil L. Whitehead
Wright, Robin
Wilbert, Johannes
Whitehead, Neil L.
Vidal, Silvia M.
Duke University Press
Durham, NC
Magick Studies
Latin America - General
Anthropology - General
Witchcraft - Amazon River Region
Magic - Amazon River Region
Metaphysics-Magic Witchcraft and Paganism
Edition Description:
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8 illustrations
9.25 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Anthropology » Central and South America
History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
History and Social Science » Anthropology » General
History and Social Science » World History » Latin America
Metaphysics » Magic Witchcraft and Paganism
Science and Mathematics » Mathematics » Calculus » General
Science and Mathematics » Mathematics » Foundations and Logic
Science and Mathematics » Mathematics » Logic and Philosophy
Science and Mathematics » Mathematics » Topology
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Relativity Theory

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Ethnographic study of shamanism in lowland South America, analyzing the relations between the social, political, and historical dynamics of witchcraft and sorcery.
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