Kendall, Laurel

Kendall, Laurel – American anthropologist best known for her books about Korean shamans: Shamans, Housewives, and Other Restless Spirits (1985) and The Life and Hard Times of a Korean Shaman (1988). She presents the results of her fieldwork among rural and urban shamans largely from the perspective of the shamans themselves rather than their clients or wider culture. She notes: “Korean shamans first drew my interest as women ministering to women. I was inspired by a burgeoning anthropological interest in the littlestudied female side of ethnography” (1985, 178). While this draws attention to the predominance of women in kut, shamanic rituals, both as shamans and as clients seeking healing or solutions to problems, it contrasts with Korean feminist and academic writing, both about shamans and about women, that reveals the marginality of shamanism. Kendall may overestimate the importance of shamans in Korean culture or feminism, but her work is important in challenging pervasive claims that shamanism is the preserve only of huntergatherer cultures.

SOURCE:

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

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