new anthropological book on Mongolian shamanism

Uradyn E. Bulag (
25 Sep 1996 15:52:10 GMT

I'd like to bring to your attention a new book published by the Oxford
University Press:Shamans and Elders: Experience, Knowledge, and Power
among the Daur Mongols (written by Caroline HUMPHREY with Urgunge ONON).
The book is published in both paper back and hard back issues. 396p. The
jacket of the book reads:

Shamans and Elders is a major study of Mongolian shamanism and society,
past and present. It presents a wealth of new information, and offers a
fresh understanding of the widespread phenomenon of shamanism.

This unique and detailed analysis of a fascinating subject combines the
insights from a long series of conversions held with Urgunge Onon and
Caroline Humphrey's text- and field-based analysis of Inner Asian
shamanism. The book aims to place shamanic practice in the history and
politics of early 20th-century Manchuria. Among other things it covers the
nature and transmission of shamanic knowledge; notions of gender in
Mongolian society, including male and female traditions in ritual;
attitudes to death and regeneration; the importance of different types of
ancestry in power relations of elders and shamans, and their relation to
state rule; and Daur notions of landscape within their direct experience
(the importance of the sky, of the mountains, of the forest, rivers, etc.)
and beyond.

In covering these diverse areas, the authors depart from the general
cultural models usually offered in discussions of shamanism, providing a
new vision of 'shamanism' as made up of fragmentary parts based on
different types of knowledge. They give much-needed insight into a
little-known world, and point to an original new way of conducting

Caroline Humphrey is a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. She is
Director of the Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit, and has been Reader
in Asian Anthropology at the University of Cambridge since 1994.

Urgunge Onon is the General Manager, Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit,
Cambridge University. He is a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge (where
he was previously a Visiting Fellow), and he is Honorary Professor at the
Mongolian State University

Uradyn E. Bulag
Corpus Christi College
Cambridge University