The literature on shamanism and related topics is extensive, but has in general been biased toward curing and trance; the political and historical significance of shamanic activities has been largely neglected. The contributors to Shamanism, History, and the State—distinguished anthropologists and historians from England, Australia, and France—show that shamanism is not static and stable, but always changing as a result of political dynamics and historical processes.
Contributors are Tamsyn Barton, Sysan Bayly, Mary Beard, Maurice Bloch, Peter Gow, Roberte N. Hamayon, Stephen Hugh-Jones, Caroline Humphrey, and Nicholas Thomas.
"The importance of this collection lies in the painstaking, many-sided ways in which it shows 'shamanism' to be a multifarious and continuously changing 'dialogue' or interaction with specific, local contexts. . . . Thus, rather than tackling the issue in principle, this collection tries to demonstrate through 'case studies' just how different 'shamanism' becomes if seen through a lens sensitive to history and the influence of institutions, such as the state, which seem far removed from it. I think the demonstrations add up to an impressive force." —Michael Taussig
"This new, ably edited volume provides . . . chapters that are rich in historic detail and that provide insights into general cultural processes and social interactions." —Historian
Nicholas Thomas is Queen Elizabeth II Research Fellow, Department of Prehistory and Anthropology, Australian National University, Canberra. He is the author of Out of Time: History and Evolution in Anthropological Discourse. Caroline Humphrey, author of Karl Marx Collective: Economy, Society and Religion in a Siberian Collective Farm, is Fellow of King's College and Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge.