Tragic Spirits: Shamanism, Memory, And Gender In Contemporary Mongolia

Paperback | November 1, 2013

byManduhai Buyandelger

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The collapse of socialism at the end of the twentieth century brought devastating changes to Mongolia. Economic shock therapy—an immediate liberalization of trade and privatization of publicly owned assets—quickly led to impoverishment, especially in rural parts of the country, where Tragic Spirits takes place. Following the travels of the nomadic Buryats, Manduhai Buyandelger tells a story not only of economic devastation but also a remarkable Buryat response to it—the revival of shamanic practices after decades of socialist suppression.
 
Attributing their current misfortunes to returning ancestral spirits who are vengeful over being abandoned under socialism, the Buryats are now at once trying to appease their ancestors and recover the history of their people through shamanic practice. Thoroughly documenting this process, Buyandelger situates it as part of a global phenomenon, comparing the rise of shamanism in liberalized Mongolia to its similar rise in Africa and Indonesia. In doing so, she offers a sophisticated analysis of the way economics, politics, gender, and other factors influence the spirit world and the crucial workings of cultural memory.

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The collapse of socialism at the end of the twentieth century brought devastating changes to Mongolia. Economic shock therapy—an immediate liberalization of trade and privatization of publicly owned assets—quickly led to impoverishment, especially in rural parts of the country, where Tragic Spirits takes place. Following the travels of...

Manduhai Buyandelger is associate professor of anthropology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:November 1, 2013Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226086569

ISBN - 13:9780226086569

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“Tragic Spirits, by the Harvard trained Buryat-Mongolian scholar Buyandelger, is based on the author’s immersion into the social and spiritual relations in the rural district of Bayan-Uul in eastern Mongolia between 1996 and 2000. Her ethnography reflects the author’s unique ability to successfully merge her insiders’ familiarity with postsocialist ruptures with estrangement by anthropological analysis. Her representation provides a complex account intertwining fieldwork experiences with historical narratives and theoretical concepts. By relating her discussion to theories not only on shamanism and magic but also on neoliberal capitalism, gender, and postsocialism, the author creates a dense, multilayered analysis with inspiring new insights.”