Hamayon, Roberte

Hamayon, Roberte – French linguist and ethnologist. Hamayon has conducted extensive research on Mongolian peoples and shamanism in Mongolia, Siberia, and China. She has drawn attention to the negative connotations of isolating trance, ecstasy, and altered states of consciousness as defining features of shamanisms in Siberia, these having been used to demonize shamans in the past, and argues that in consequence these terms are of little use in informing our understanding of what shamans do. Hamayon theorizes about shamans, sex, and gender in Siberian shamanism, arguing that shamanic séances among the Evenk (Tungus) and Buryat are themselves “sexual encounters.” As such, she argues that the “marriage” between shamans and their helpers is more significant in understanding what these shamans do than the ecstasy, mastery of spirits, or journeying emphasized by other scholars. Hamayon’s work has also clarified the relationship between shamans and community in pre-Soviet Siberia: shamans secured “good luck” for hunters, and the ceremony at which this is effected involved the interplay of “game” (hunted animals) and “games” (entertainment and contests), enhancing our understanding of relationships, especially reciprocity, in shamanistic communities. Hamayon was a researcher (1965–74) at the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), and since 1974 she has been director of studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Science of Religion Section. She is the founder of the Centre for Mongolian and Siberian Studies and its journal, Études mongoles et sibériennes.

SOURCE:

Historical Dictionary of Shamanism by Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis 2007

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