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Shamanism
Shamanism

Shamanism has commanded scholarly and intellectual attention in Western academia since the 18th century. Current anthropologists discredit much of the historic literature as methodologically unscientific, revealing more about the biases and fascinations of Western writers than about their subjects. Nevertheless, the ethnographic record on shamanism is rich and has informed scholars from numerous disciplines, including religious studies, history, and psychology.

Anthropologists use shaman in several different ways. Most narrowly, and arguably most appropriately, it denotes magicoreligious specialists of the Siberian Tungus people. The word saman comes from the Tungus verb sa-“to know.” Noting similarities and cultural diffusion, scholars expanded the term to indicate similar practitioners in other circumboreal cultures and central Asia. Most commonly, shaman refers to a theoretical category of magicoreligious specialists in cultures ...

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