Townsend, Joan

Townsend, Joan – Professor emeritus in anthropology at the University of Manitoba, Canada. Broadly concurring with Michael Harner’s definition of core shamanism as the essential character of indigenous shamanisms, Townsend’s analysis of “modern shamanic spirituality” draws distinctions between “traditional” shamanism, core shamanism, and neo-shamanism. She accurately notes the emphasis on individual empowerment in neo-shamanisms, in contrast to traditional shamanisms. Core shamanism is singled out for special treatment, but it must also be seen as a Western construct: while it is possible to strip away the differences that constitute “shamanisms” across cultures, it is improbable that the core shamanism that remains is anything but a neo-shamanism made accessible (safe, acultural, apolitical) to a Western audience. It is cultural difference and diversity which makes shamans, in all their nuances, “shamans.”

SOURCE:

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

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