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Dark Shamans: Kanaima and the Poetics of Violent Death Paperback – October 7, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0822329886 ISBN-10: 0822329883

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (October 7, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822329883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822329886
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #822,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“An exceptionally fine ethnography of the kanaimà, Dark Shamans will fill a large gap. As an ethnography located in ethnohistory and processes of modernization, this book is an outstanding example of new anthropological work at the leading edge of the discipline.”—Donald Pollock, State University of New York, Buffalo


“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 kanaimà, 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

From the Publisher

"An exceptionally fine ethnography of the kanaimà, Dark Shamans will fill a large gap. As an ethnography located in ethnohistory and processes of modernization, this book is an outstanding example of new anthropological work at the leading edge of the discipline."—Donald Pollock, State University of New York, Buffalo

"Ethnographer Neil L. Whitehead enters this realm of reality and mythology, of story telling and first-hand experience, by accident, and his opening tale sustains the horror-filled storytelling power characteristic of such authors as Bram Stoker to Stephen King. As such, the Kanaimà, long known to explorers, poets, and ordinary people of northeastern South America, take their place in the history of modernity along with Dracula, Frankenstein, or the Wolf Man."—Norman Whitten, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J Irvin on January 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
Dark Shamans: Kanaimà and the Poetics of Violent Death by Dr. Neil Whitehead Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2002.

Dr. Whitehead has delivered one of the most important scholarly presentations of shamanism and its outgrowths I've yet come across. This book is explosive in its content and delivery.

Though this book does not focus on ethnopharmacology and the typical interpretations of entheogenic shamanism, and, thankfully, does not focus on the New Age, self-serving and deluded concepts of "neo-shamanism," it does, however, focus on something currently perceived to be far more insidious. Dark Shamanism, better known to the Amerindian populations of South America as Kanaimà or Itoto, is the practice of assault sorcery/shamanism in the Amazonia region of Guyana.

In the historical context of Amerindian studies by modernity, Kanaimà has been overlooked and marginalized as nothing but invisible spirits perceived by delusional indigenous peoples with their so-called limited perceptions of reality and ability to properly deduce information from the world of reality.

However, as Dr. Whitehead outlines in this work, it was the white scientists who created the deranged concepts of Kanaimà by not properly understanding it, or for that matter, by not taking the Amerindian populations literally as they should have. As with many anthropologists who have recently partaken in the entheogenic experiences (R. G. Wasson et al) and have discovered that the visions from entheogenic substances used by indigenous cultures are as real as "reality", so too is Kanaimà a serious reality. This reality is not one based in fantasy and delusion, but men and death, and powerfully deadly plant poisons.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Laurence Daley on July 22, 2009
Whitehead, Neil L. 2002 Dark Shamans: Kanaima and the Poetics of Violent Death, Duke University Press. ISBN-10 0822329883; ISBN-13 978-0822329886

Death in the jungle.

In pre-Castro Cuba, the sight of an erotically beautiful woman hip swaying down the street, elicited the exclamation "!Que Barbara! Literally this means translation: "What an animal! What a barbarian! the first phrase indicates admiration for vigor mostly male: however the latter interpretation indicates the response of a male to the stimulation caused by such sighting of such a voluptuous beauty. Perhaps in part it is also an invocation of the Afro-Cuban god of lightening Chango.

Rómulo Gallegos, living in similar milieu in Venezuela refers to this as the call of Canaima, the evil spirit of the Zuanía, the Amazonian and Orinoco jungles from whence the ancestors of the Taíno (Island Arawaks) came. Gallegos gives a principal character, an aggressive ruthlessly lustful female, the name of "Doña Bárbara." Gallegos attributes this trait to a serial rape his protagonist had suffered as a young woman.

However, this interpretation of Gallegos, is perhaps a little innocent, since in the Venezuelan indigenous milieu, as in the related Cuban Taíno and Güajiro traditions such actions were traditional and accepted as merely rights of passage. In addition, it appears that Gallegos is unconsciously adapting these character traits from the Venezuelan myth of Uyara (María Leonza), and on this superimposing his own somewhat prudish views on the matter.

Whitehead's approach is different, he address the cruel reality of the cult of Canaima, choosing to spell it with K rather than a C.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
EXTREMELY informative, love the different perspectives and how 'Kanaima' has morphed over the years. Amazing sociological observations and connections. a MUST read.
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