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Divination and Healing: Potent Vision Hardcover – September 1, 2004

2 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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"A major contribution to medical anthropology and a significant advance in the anthropological study of divinatory processes." -- Stephen D. Glazier, University of Nebaska-Lincoln

From the Inside Flap

Divination is an important feature of cultures all over the world. While some may still question the efficacy of divination systems, they continue to serve their communities by diagnosing ailments, prescribing healing treatments, and solving problems. Yet despite their universality, there are relatively few comprehensive studies of divination systems. This volume seeks to fill this gap regarding the use of divination in healing. Here some of the world's leading authorities draw on their own fieldwork and participation in ritual to present detailed case studies, demonstrating that divination rituals can have demonstrable therapeutic effects. As the contributors examine the systems of knowledge that divination articulates and survey the varieties of divinatory experience, they seek to analyze divination as an epistemological system, as a social process, and as a therapeutic endeavor. While some of their findings reinforce traditional assumptions about the importance of social control, spirit relations, and community support in the divination process, the authors place these considerations within new epistemological frameworks that emphasize the use of alternative modes of knowing. Included in this wide-ranging volume, readers will find coverage of: classic Ifa systems; Buddhist-influenced shamanic practices in the former Soviet Union; the reconciliation of Muslim beliefs and divinatory practices in Thailand; Native American divination used in diagnosis; Maya calendrical divination in Guatemala; mediumistic and chicken oracle divination among the Sukuma of Tanzania; Ndembu divination, focusing on the process of collective healing; and divination among the Samburu (Maasai) of Kenya, featuring dialogues from actual healing sessions. Together, these contributions argue for new perspectives on the study of divination which emphasize not only the epistemological roots of these systems but also their multifaceted therapeutic functions, contending that this approach provides the necessary attention to emic views of divinatory processes and spirit beings. Divination and Healing is a rich source of both data and insight for scholars of ritual, religion, medical anthropology, and the psychology of altered states of consciousness.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 295 pages
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816523770
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816523771
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,115,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
This is a compendium of various divination and healing practices from native peoples (mostly from Africa). Some of the articles have been (almost verbatim) published in other compendia (such as the article by Edith Turner on the Ndembu) and others are mostly irrelevant (such as Devisch's naive psychoanalyzing of the Ngoombo). Ditto for Winkelman's naivete with respect to brain function, serotonin transporters and shamanism. For these guys shamanism is just a form of self-hypnosis.

Overall, the anthropology here is uneven, cautious, with the authors never capable of escaping the straight-jackets of the mainstream discipline . In fact, with the exception of Winkelman, who thinks 'spirits' are just a facet of brain ativity, none of the authors dares to tackle the question of the 'spirits' directly - even though spirits and ancestors are what shamanism is all about. This makes the book outdated even before it hit the shelves.

In my opinion, this book displays quite clearly the limitations of doing anthropology by "impartial observers". When it comes to academic shamanism, we are still in the dark ages.
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Divination and Healing: Potent Vision
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