19 July 2013

More acclaim for "Not Quite Shamans"

Morten Axel Pedersen has recently received several positive reviews in leading anthropological journals for “Not Quite Shamans: Spirit Worlds and Political Lives in Northern Mongolia” a book that explores how the Darhad people of Northern Mongolia's Shishged Valley have understood and responded to the transition to postsocialism by engaging with shamanic beliefs and practices associated with the past.

Here you can read highlights from three selected reviews:

Speaking back at ready-made concepts
“In this innovative, engaging ethnographic account of the complex social upheaval and ontological uncertainties… …Pedersen has cultivated a theoretically nuanced approach that provides creative space for his ethnographic material to ‘speak back’ to the ready-made anthropological concepts that seem, at first sight, to be most apposite as explanatory tools.”

“Pedersen allows space for the complex ontology of multifarious Mongolian forms to suggest other possibilities of becoming in the world, subverting the tendency of conventional anthropological and sociological analysis to offer an interpretation premised on epistemological assumptions that themselves remain unacknowledged and unchallenged.”

- Review by Damian Walter in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Volume 19, Issue 2. Read the full review here at wiley.com (requires access).

Shows that shamanism can be modern
“For scholars of shamanism, Pedersen, by demonstrating that it is not always the shamans who carry the practice to the new generations but the entire community, reveals some nuances behind shamanic resiliency around the world…”

“… the book successfully takes shamanism away from the notion of exotic and traditional but shows its modernities and many ways in which shamanism `spills over [its] forms,´ quintessential and even modern and incomplete.”

- Review by Manduhai Buyandelger in American Anthropologist, Volume 115, Issue 1. Read the full review here at wiley.com (requires access).

A seminal text
Not Quite Shamans is a beautifully written, rich, and detailed ethnographic account of a remote corner of postsocialist Mongolia. Empathetic but never apologetic, Pedersen presents a balanced account of what was certainly a very arduous, even life-threatening, fieldwork research.”

”…Not Quite Shamans will certainly become a seminal text, not only for Mongolian and Inner Asian specialists but indeed as a detailed and perceptive analysis of postsocialism and shamanism.”

- Review by Franck Billé in Current Anthropology, Vol. 54, No. 2. Read the full review here at jstor.org (requires access).

Honorable mention for the Bateson Prize
In 2012 “Not Quite Shamans” received an Honorable mention for the Gregory Bateson Book Prize by the Society for Cultural Anthropology. The Bateson Prize honors work that is theoretically rich and ethnographically grounded, as well as interdisciplinary, experimental and innovative.

Go to the website of the publisher to read more about “Not Quite Shamans” or order.