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

4.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Glass-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."

"The Gift of Life" is a sensitive and insightful examination . . . provideÝing¨ considerable ethnographic detail on healers and healing . . .

Glass-Coffins fully contextualized discussion . . . provides much illuminating material . . . Ýshe¨ has contributed significantly to the disciplines ongoing conversation about our ontological and epistemological foundations.

a"The Gift of Life" is a sensitive and insightful examination . . . provide[ing] considerable ethnographic detail on healers and healing . . ."

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.
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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: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 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: #89,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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By A Customer 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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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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