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Wayward Shamans tells the story of an idea that humanity’s first expression of art, religion and creativity found form in the figure of a proto-priest known as a shaman. Tracing this classic category of the history of anthropology back to the emergence of the term in Siberia, the work follows the trajectory of European knowledge about the continent’s eastern frontier. The ethnographic record left by German natural historians engaged in the Russian colonial expansion project in the 18th century includes a range of shamanic practitioners, varied by gender and age. Later accounts by exiled Russian revolutionaries noted transgendered shamans. This variation vanished, however, in the translation of shamanism into archaeology theory, where a male sorcerer emerged as the key agent of prehistoric art. More recent efforts to provide a universal shamanic explanation for rock art via South Africa and neurobiology likewise gloss over historical evidence of diversity. By contrast this book argues for recognizing indeterminacy in the categories we use, and reopening them by recalling their complex history.
This second edition of Historical Dictionary of Shamanism contains a chronology, an introduction, and extensive bibliography. The dictionary contains over 500 cross-referenced dictionary entries on individuals, groups, practices and cultures that have been called “shamanic”. This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about Shamanism.
In The Origins of Shamanism, Spirit Beliefs, and Religiosity, H. Sidky uses first-hand ethnographic fieldwork and scientific theoretical work in archaeology, cognitive and evolutionary psychology, and neurotheology to explore the origins of shamanism, spirit beliefs, the evolution of human consciousness, and the origins of ritual behavior and religiosity.
Rock art is one of the most visible and geographically widespread of cultural expressions, and it spans much of the period of our species' existence. Rock art also provides rare and often unique insights into the minds and visually creative capacities of our ancestors and how selected rock outcrops with distinctive images were used to construct symbolic landscapes and shape worldviews. Equally important, rock art is often central to the expression of and engagement with spiritual entities and forces, and in all these dimensions it signals the diversity of cultural practices, across place and through time. Over the past 150 years, archaeologists have studied ancient arts on rock surfaces, both out in the open and within caves and rock shelters, and social anthropologists have revealed how people today use art in their daily lives. The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology and Anthropology of Rock Art showcases examples of such research from around the world and across a broad range of cultural contexts, giving a sense of the art's regional variability, its antiquity, and how it is meaningful to people in the recent past and today - including how we have ourselves tended to make sense of the art of others, replete with our own preconceptions. It reviews past, present, and emerging theoretical approaches to rock art investigation and presents new, cutting-edge methods of rock art analysis for the student and professional researcher alike.
In The Transplant Imaginary, author Lesley Sharp explores the extraordinarily surgically successful realm of organ transplantation, which is plagued worldwide by the scarcity of donated human parts, a quandary that generates ongoing debates over the marketing of organs as patients die waiting for replacements. These widespread anxieties within and beyond medicine over organ scarcity inspire seemingly futuristic trajectories in other fields. Especially prominent, longstanding, and promising domains include xenotransplantation, or efforts to cull fleshy organs from animals for human use, and bioengineering, a field peopled with “tinkerers” intent on designing implantable mechanical devices, where the heart is of special interest. Scarcity, suffering, and sacrifice are pervasive and, seemingly, inescapable themes that frame the transplant imaginary. Xenotransplant experts and bioengineers at work in labs in five Anglophone countries share a marked determination to eliminate scarcity and human suffering, certain that their efforts might one day altogether eliminate any need for parts of human origin. A premise that drives Sharp’s compelling ethnographic project is that high-stakes experimentation inspires moral thinking, informing scientists’ determination to redirect the surgical trajectory of transplantation and, ultimately, alter the integrity of the human form.
The Beauty of the Primitive explores how shamanism, an obscure word introduced by the eighteenth-century German explorers of Siberia, entered Western humanities 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. With its interdisciplinary approach and engaging style, it promises to be the definitive account of this neglected strand of intellectual history.
New York Times Bestseller A Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.” One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us? Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas. Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become? Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.

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