Shamanism and the hunters of the Siberian forest: soul, life force, spirit

Authored by: Roberte Hamayon

The Handbook of Contemporary Animism

Print publication date:  October  2013
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9781844657117
eBook ISBN: 9781315728964
Adobe ISBN: 9781317544500


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Shamanism is often seen as the paragon of animism. Shamanism has been the object of approaches so diverse (and is itself so multiform) that a short recap is essential before coming to the exemplary case of the hunting peoples of the Siberian forest in the pre-Soviet period. They are exemplary, first, because it is from the language of the Tungus people that the term “shaman” comes. But they are exemplary especially because shamanism occupies a central position in their societies: it governs hunting according to animist conceptions which legitimate it and make it possible; it manages the ensuing relations – both with the natural environment and within society. And this conception adapts to other contexts, as I will show through an outline of the concept of spirit in contemporary Siberia.

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