Top critical review
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no shamanism, no apprenticeship
on March 29, 2005
I have recently written a review of Plotkin's book, which was taken off these pages - apparently simply because I disagreed with the author's assertions, conclusions and motives. I wouldn't go so far as to claim Amazon.com engages in censorship, but this action does lead me to believe some of the ratings may be skewed.
I ahve two basic criticisms of this book: (1) The title is misleading. There was no apprenticeship involved - Plotkin learnt no ceremonies and no cures. He is not a shaman by any stretch of imagination.
(2) He is one of the hundreds of ethnobotanists who case the Amazon in search of clinically active plants; these people are no bleeding hearts - they do it for pharmaceutical industry, which generally pays a pittance to the indigenous people from whom the knowledge was taken. Plotkin himself was engaged with a such a company, called aptly enough, Shaman Pharmaceuticals.
Now I think this is fair to lay out in a review, don't you? In my mind, Plotkin exemplifies a self-righteous attitude with which Westerners venture into contact with indigenous peoples, all too often under the guise of conservancy and environmental activism.... and then write books about it. I frankly cannot see what Plotkin had to do with apprenticeship to Amazonian shamans and if this is enough to censor my review - well so be it.