Humphrey, Caroline

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Caroline Humphrey (1943– ) – Professor of anthropology at Cambridge University. Humphrey has carried out research in Siberia and Mongolia in the Soviet and post-Soviet periods, as well as in India, Nepal, Inner Mongolia, and Manchuria. Her research interests include shamanism, theories of ritual, and socialist/postsocialist economy and society. With Nicholas Thomas, she coedited Shamanism, History, and the State (1994) and contributed an important chapter on the political role of shamans in the Manchu state. With Urgunge Onon, she coauthored Shamans and Elders (1996), which explores the role of shamans in Daur Mongol societies, carefully distinguishing them from elders. Both books are important engagements with the political and social place of shamans in their cultures and redress an imbalanced view of shamanism as a separate domain of life identifiable as “religion.” The latter book is also among the most detailed accounts of historical and near-contemporary Mongolian shamans and their practices, roles, and relationships with other religious functionaries. It uses “shamanism” to refer to “the entire conglomeration of ideas about beings in the world which includes the shaman,” and “shamanship” to refer to the shaman’s practice or performance.


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


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