The Beauty of the Primitive: Shamanism and Western Imagination by Andrei A. Znamenski

The Beauty of the Primitive: Shamanism and Western Imagination

byAndrei A. Znamenski

Hardcover | July 30, 2007

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For the past forty years shamanism has drawn increasing attention among the general public and academics. There is an enormous literature on shamanism, but no one has tried to understand why and how Western intellectual and popular culture became so fascinated with the topic. Behind fictionaland non-fictional works on shamanism, Andrei A. Znamenski uncovers an exciting story that mirrors changing Western attitudes toward the primitive. The Beauty of the Primitive explores how shamanism, an obscure word introduced by the eighteenth-century German explorers of Siberia, entered Westernhumanities and social sciences, and has now become a powerful idiom used by nature and pagan communities to situate their spiritual quests and anti-modernity sentiments. The major characters of The Beauty of the Primitive are past and present Western scholars, writers, explorers, and spiritualseekers with a variety of views on shamanism. Moving from Enlightenment and Romantic writers and Russian exile ethnographers to the anthropology of Franz Boas to Mircea Eliade and Carlos Castaneda, Znamenski details how the shamanism idiom was gradually transplanted from Siberia to the NativeAmerican scene and beyond. He also looks into the circumstances that prompted scholars and writers at first to marginalize shamanism as a mental disorder and then to recast it as high spiritual wisdom in the 1960s and the 1970s. Linking the growing interest in shamanism to the rise of anti-modernismin Western culture and intellectual life, Znamenski examines the role that anthropology, psychology, environmentalism, and Native Americana have played in the emergence of neo-shamanism. He discusses the sources that inspire Western neo-shamans and seeks to explain why lately many of these spiritualseekers have increasingly moved away from non-Western tradition to European folklore. A work of intellectual discovery, The Beauty of the Primitive shows how scholars, writers, and spiritual seekers shape their writings and experiences to suit contemporary cultural, ideological, and spiritual needs. With its interdisciplinary approach and engaging style, it promises to be the definitive account of this neglected strand of intellectual history.

About The Author

Andrei A. Znamenski is Associate Professor of History, Alabama State University
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Details & Specs

Title:The Beauty of the Primitive: Shamanism and Western ImaginationFormat:HardcoverDimensions:464 pages, 6.3 × 9.21 × 1.61 inPublished:July 30, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195172310

ISBN - 13:9780195172317

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Table of Contents

PrefaceChapter 1:. Enlightenment and Romantic Writers Look at ShamansChapter 2:. From Siberia to North America: Regionalists, Anthropologists and "Exiled" EthnographersChapter 3:. Neurotics to Tribal Psychoanalysts: Shamans through the Eyes of PsychologyChapter 4:. Power Plants: Psychedelic Scholarship Meets "Tribal" SpiritualityChapter 5:. Shamanism Goes Global: Mircea Eliade and Carlos CastanedaChapter 6:. Castaneda's Lessons, Anthropology, and "Tales of Power"Chapter 7:. Toward the Ancient Future: Shamanism in the Modern WestChapter 8:. Sources of Inspiration: from Native Americana to European Pagan FolkloreChapter 9:. Back to Siberia: Adventures of the Metaphor in Its MotherlandEpilogueNotesBibliographical Essay

Editorial Reviews

"Travelling through time and space, The Beauty of the Primitive traces the growing appreciation of shamanism in the West as part of a growing anti-modernism. Andrei Znamenski digs deep into Russian, German, Finnish, and American sources to reveal the Western imagination of ancient and modernmedicine-men, sorcerers, conjurers, magicians and spiritualists. Freud, Jung, Bogoras, Eliade, Castaneda, and Harner are but a few of the many scholars, writers, explorers, and spiritual seekers awaiting the reader in this brilliant expose of the intellectual history of shamanic and neo-shamanicpractices." --Christer Lindberg, Professor of Social Anthropology, Lund University