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The Living Ancestors: Shamanism, Cosmos and Cultural Change among the Yanomami of the Upper Orinoco

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The Living Ancestors

Shamanism, Cosmos and Cultural Change among the Yanomami of the Upper Orinoco

Zeljko Jokic

296 pages, 20 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-817-3 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (September 2015)

ISBN  978-1-78920-758-3 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (July 2020)

eISBN 978-1-78238-818-0 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“This meticulously researched study with its accessible, clear, and engaging presentation fills a significant gap in the regional study of the Yanomami. Essential. · Choice

“Jokic’s ethnography …is very well written and reads fluidly. Jokic frequently narrates his own experiences of the Yanomami shamanic world, as well as the thoughts he was having as he was witnessing the events he describes in the book or while listening to the testimonies he references. This contributes to the reader’s experience as it makes it easier to understand the motivations and concerns that the author had for producing this ethnography, as well as the conditions upon which it was produced.” · Anthropology Book Forum

“The book is a fascinating account of the experiential qualities of Yanomami shamanism, particularly in relation to shamanistic initiation. In great detail, Jokic relates both the theoretical and the emotional dimensions of Yanomami shamanistic notions, to which he is well suited as he can build upon his own experiences of being initiated during his fieldwork.” · Journal of Anthropological Research

The Living Ancestors is a fine piece of ethnography, straddling several important subjects in contemporary anthropology. Jokic's analysis is innovative and convincing… the message of multiplicity and multiperspectivism is a valuable lesson… and reveals that we still have much to learn and to appreciate about shamanism as an experience of self, other, and world.” · Anthropology Review Database

“A captivating and original ethnographic description of religious/healing practices among the Yanomani of the Upper Orinoco… The author has achieved a deep understanding of the culture, worldviews, ideologies, and cosmology during his fieldwork in two communities. The writing is articulate, fluent, and incisive, and still remains plain enough to attract a wide range of academic and non-academic public." · Diana Riboli, Panteion University

“…the work as a whole is superb… a meticulous documentation of shamanistic experience and practices.” · Jadran Mimica, University of Sydney


This phenomenologically oriented ethnography focuses on experiential aspects of Yanomami shamanism, including shamanistic activities in the context of cultural change. The author interweaves ethnographic material with theoretical components of a holographic principle, or the idea that the “part is equal to the whole,” which is embedded in the nature of the Yanomami macrocosm, human dwelling, multiple-soul components, and shamans’ relationships with embodied spirit-helpers. This book fills an important gap in the regional study of Yanomami people, and, on a broader scale, enriches understanding of this ancient phenomenon by focusing on the consciousness involved in shamanism through firsthand experiential involvement.

Zeljko Jokic received his PhD in Social Anthropology in 2004 at the University of Sydney. Since then he lectured at various universities, conducted a short-term fieldwork in Siberia and worked as a Research Assistant at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. He also spent several years working as a consultant for the Inter-American Organization for the Elimination of Onchocerciasis at the Amazonian Centre for Investigation and Control of Tropical Diseases, Puerto Ayacucho, Venezuela. Currently, he is a Policy Officer at the Health and Medical Research Office of the Australian Government Department of Health.

Subject: Anthropology (General)Anthropology of Religion
Area: Latin America and the Caribbean


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