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Yanantin and Masintin in the Andean World: Complementary Dualism in Modern Peru Hardcover – March 15, 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Yanantin and Masintin in the Andean World is an eloquently written autoethnography in which researcher Hillary S. Webb seeks to understand the indigenous Andean concept of yanantin or "complementary opposites."

About the Author

Hillary S. Webb is the managing editor of Anthropology of Consciousness, the peer-reviewed journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press (March 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826350720
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826350725
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,387,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
Hillary S. Webb in her intriguing and immensely readable book YANANTIN AND MASINTIN IN THE ANDEAN WORLD has created not only a book that devours the attention of the reader fortunate enough to discover it, she also reminds us that some of the ancient thoughts and practices are as advanced or at times more advanced than current scientific investigation! While those may sound a bit presumptuous, spend some time with her journal of participation with the indigenous Peruvians, read her interviews with these people, and witness her participation in a healing ceremony based on the premise of this book.

The Yanantin can be defined as follows: Because existence itself is believed to be dependent upon the tension and balanced interchange between the polarities, there is a very definite ideological and practical commitment within indigenous Andean life to bringing the seemingly conflicting opposites into harmony with one another without destroying or altering either one. Among the indigenous people of Peru and Bolivia, the union of opposing yet interdependent energies is called yanantin or "complementary opposites." Masintin is what is materialized. It is what is self realized, not what stays in theory. Masintin is to enter into the spirit and the essence of anything, of the thing. Of what has been materialized. Of what has been imagined. You must enter into the spirit of it. Masintin is to create, recreate, and procreate.

These concepts may sound complex but as Webb experiences and shares them they are sound and credible. Her own participation in the healing ceremony - partaking of the San Pedro cactus - provided her access to the utter simplicity of the philosophical aspects of these Andean peoples and it is that experience she so adeptly shares that makes this such a powerful read. Grady Harp, September 12
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Format: Hardcover
Its longish and odd title and its publisher, University of New Mexico Press, might tempt people to dismiss this as merely an academic book of interest only to specialists. Nothing could be less true. This is a chronicle of a journey of the intellect and of the heart to understand an ancient and sophisticated worldview around the notion of "yanantin," or complementary opposites. Yanantin embraces the essential rightness of conflict without demonizing any of the participants of the conflict. It is Dr. Webb's hope that we can bring this worldview into our own lives and get past the many issues that have polarized our society.

After a discussion of research methodology in the introduction (well, this IS a work of scholarship, after all), the book slips into some very good travel writing. It starts off with Dr. Webb wandering around Cuzco, asking people how they defined "yanantin" and getting very disappointing results. (In retrospect, this might not be too surprising: it might like walking up to New Yorkers and asking them to define "freedom" or "justice.") She gets a little more clarity when she meets up with an old friend, Amado, and his friend, Juan Luis. Amado and Juan Luis are both shamans, and while they are happy to discuss yanantin, they are quite insistent that it can only be grasped through the use of "the Medicine."

At this point it might sound you are in for a recap of the Carlos Castenada books, but this is a different millennium, and Amado and Juan Luis are very different from Don Juan. The Castenada books (at least as I recall them) reinforced the '60's idea that modern life was way out of balance and that truth lay in traditional ways. In contrast, Amado and Juan Luis are hip young men.
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Format: Paperback
This is a book for those of us who yearn to discover something beyond our western roots. And yet, the western observer in the midst of this search is constantly humbled. The book centers on the author's personal journey to incorporate the indigenous Andean concept of Yanantin, or the philosophical principle of essential complementarity that is inherent in the relationships between opposites, into her perception of the world. This is both an intellectual and a spiritual process that is achieved through the careful guidance of shamanic teachers and catalyzed through San-Pedro-induced altered states of consciousness. What results is a telling account of the deeply held philosophical assumptions that condition our ways of experiencing the world as a result of our culture, and what can be learned through challenging and transcending those assumptions in order to experience other cultures.

The book is an auto-ethnography, meaning that rather than studying a distant culture from the perspective of an "objective" observer, the author treats herself as the subject of study as she endeavors to live the Andean worldview first-hand. This makes sense because in the Andean worldview, learning occurs through practice and action, not through ideas abstracted from lived reality. From this perspective the experiences themselves feel vivid and close. This means receiving intimate accounts of the author's thoughts as she "downloads" cosmic teachings from the stars or sneaks into ruins to encounter ancient the ancient "lanzón" idol, as well as frequent conversations with spiritual masters. Still, the ethnographic content, building from many decades of Andean anthropology literature, is extremely rich, well researched, and well presented.
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