Hinduism and Tribal Religions

Living Edition
| Editors: Pankaj Jain, Rita Sherma, Madhu Khanna


  • Deepra Dandekar
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_6-1

Shamanism is a contested term with missionary overtones that conceptually describes expressions of ecstatic religiosity in the non-Christian worlds of Asia, Africa, Australia, and non-Christianized America. Nevertheless, despite its Christian overtones, this term has enjoyed vast descriptive significance for anthropological research. While an exhaustive range of anthropological definitions remains outside the scope of this article, it suffices to mention that Shamanism was conceptually defined as a product of the Eurocentric and anthropological gaze that inverted its own non-ecstatic, scriptural, and intellectual Christian expression, by projecting ecstatic religion into the non-Christian Shamanism, thereby essentializing and fetishizing non-Christianity.

Debates on Shamanism began in the 1950s [1], when scholars associated Shamanism with “possession” and traced its etymological origin to Central Asian tribes [2]. The term, as originally formulated by Mircea Eliade, was described as a...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for the History of EmotionsMax Planck Institute for Human DevelopmentBerlinGermany