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The Gift of Life: Female Spirituality and Healing in Northern Peru (Studies in Modern German Literature) Paperback – March 1, 1998


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The Gift of Life: Female Spirituality and Healing in Northern Peru (Studies in Modern German Literature) + Jung and Shamanism in Dialogue: Retrieving the Soul / Retrieving the Sacred + The Night Has a Naked Soul: Witchcraft and Sorcery Among the Western Cherokee
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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Modern German Literature
  • Paperback: 262 pages
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press (March 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826318932
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826318930
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #472,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

aGlass-Coffin's fully contextualized discussion . . . provides much illuminating material . . . [she] has contributed significantly to the discipline's ongoing conversation about our ontological and epistemological foundations."

From the Inside Flap

This remarkable work of anthropology breaks new ground in the study of Latin American female shamanism.

More About the Author

Bonnie Glass-Coffin, PhD, is a visionary and a bridge builder who believes that educating the whole person (head and heart) should be at the core of a liberal arts education. She has been inspired to build these bridges because of the transformative experiences that she has had while studying with Peruvian shamans for more than 30 years. She has spoken about this vision with university presidents, provosts, and deans as well as students and her anthropology colleagues at places like the President's Inaugural Lecture (Utah State University), the American Anthropological Association and the annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges & Universities. She has written about this vision and her experiences of deep personal transformation in academic venues including Anthropology and Humanism, Anthropology of Consciousness, the International Journal of Transpersonal Studies and in popular venues including Shaman's Drum and Sacred Fire Magazine. She has developed and piloted course curricula that celebrate this "whole person" approach to learning while providing tools for inner-exploration and development and she has been awarded both the CASE/Carnegie Professor of the Year for the State of Utah (2004), the Eleanor Roosevelt Global Citizenship Award (2010), and the Dean's Giraffe Award for "sticking your neck out" (2012). She has written two books about her work with Peruvian shamanism, The Gift of Life: Female Spirituality and Healing in Northern Peru and Lessons in Courage: Peruvian Shamanic Wisdom for Everyday Life (with don Oscar Miro-Quesada).

Customer Reviews

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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Ted Fortier (tedf@seattleu.edu) on July 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
What kind of world view requires shamans (curanderas)? How do we make sense out of such phenomena? Bonnie Glass-Coffin's very readable and enjoyable book introduces the reader to the pre-contact world of the Peruvian Indians, and links that reality to the post-contact trauma of the people today. Based on more than five years of field work, the "Gift of Life" is a true gift to anyone who is fascinated by different cultural ways of knowing, and the forms of cultural resistance and adaptation that enable a society to endure. This volume is a very important addition to the anthropology of religion and to the field of women's studies. The balance of research, first person accounts, and interviews provide a wonderful forum for understanding the function spirituality has in the lives of the oppressed and marginalized. Dr. Glass-Coffin understands the nuances of ritual, adding a richness to the manner in which she describes, evaluates, and analyzes the historical and social structures of contemporary Peruvian curanderas and their practices. The researcher, the scholar, the student, as well as the casual reader will find this attention to the lived reality of the people very valuable. The first part of the book introduces the reader to a variety of aspects relating to shamanism. These include issues of sorcery, dualism, world view, and healing traditions. This is followed by stories of five women healers, and descriptions of their social-cultural milieu and methods of healing. Glass-Coffin, in the best tradition of anthropological fieldwork, describes how she became an active participant observer to the rituals and lives of the curanderas.Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Sue Larson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Prior to THE GIFT OF LIFE, little had been written about the role women play in healing and shamanism in Northern Peru. Part of the reason for this oversight had to do with the way European colonization brought the concept of "witchcraft" to Peru, and the fact that Peruvian women who practiced traditional healing arts were frequently beaten and tortured until they confessed to standard European-style "witchcraft" practices. Author Bonnie Glass-Coffin was trained as an anthropologist, so she knew that women have historically played a large part in shamanism from looking at the ancient sculptures of the Moche and Chimu, which both portray women involved in healing arts. With the intention to find and interview modern-day women shamans in Peru, Glass-Coffin set out to do exactly that.
Bonnie Glass-Coffin shares the stories from five female curanderas (shamans) she met with between April 1988 and September 1989. Her extraordinary book, THE GIFT OF LIFE, describes the daily life of these female curanderas and the story of how they became healers, and includes black and white photographs of their mesas (curing altars) and healing herbs (plants such as the San Pedro cactus). Glass-Coffin's background in anthropology and her accounts of her experiences living in Peru as she grew up give this book a unique feeling of personal relevance and social perspective.
I was impressed that THE GIFT OF LIFE does not shy away from describing the ways curanderas have used their spiritual powers on some occasions for sorcery. Glass-Coffin describes "dano" as intended harm by sorcery, and tells stories and includes pictures of how Peruvians have discovered and dealt with the harmful magic of others.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "mrneims" on June 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
This most engaging book offers a first hand anthropological/sociological look at healing rituals as performed by several women healers in Northern Peru. The book is made richer and more compelling by Glass-Coffin's accounts of her personal growth as a result of her experiences with these gifted healers. This book is a a rich accounting of those experiences. It is not often that one finds such a blend of academic scholarship and personal sharing of self.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Sue Larson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Prior to THE GIFT OF LIFE, little had been written about the role women play in healing and shamanism in Northern Peru. Part of the reason for this oversight had to do with the way European colonization brought the concept of "witchcraft" to Peru, and the fact that Peruvian women who practiced traditional healing arts were frequently beaten and tortured until they confessed to standard European-style "witchcraft" practices. Author Bonnie Glass-Coffin was trained as an anthropologist, so she knew that women have historically played a large part in shamanism from looking at the ancient sculptures of the Moche and Chimu, which both portray women involved in healing arts. With the intention to find and interview modern-day women shamans in Peru, Glass-Coffin set out to do exactly that.
Bonnie Glass-Coffin shares the stories from five female curanderas (shamans) she met with between April 1988 and September 1989. Her extraordinary book, THE GIFT OF LIFE, describes the daily life of these female curanderas and the story of how they became healers, and includes black and white photographs of their mesas (curing altars) and healing herbs (plants such as the San Pedro cactus). Glass-Coffin's background in anthropology and her accounts of her experiences living in Peru as she grew up give this book a unique feeling of personal relevance and social perspective.
I was impressed that THE GIFT OF LIFE does not shy away from describing the ways curanderas have used their spiritual powers on some occasions for sorcery. Glass-Coffin describes "dano" as intended harm by sorcery, and tells stories and includes pictures of how Peruvians have discovered and dealt with the harmful magic of others.
Read more ›
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