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Symmetrical and Reverse Anthropology in Contemporary Shamanic Practices

Grant number: 16/13244-3
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2017
Effective date (End): March 31, 2022
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Anthropology
Principal researcher:Ronaldo Romulo Machado de Almeida
Grantee:Rodrigo Iamarino Caravita
Home Institution: Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas (IFCH). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):18/04922-3 - Walking the Red Road: a dialogue between Brazil and Mexico, BE.EP.DR


This research proposes a practical exercise of "reverse anthropology" through the cartography (mapping) of contemporary shamanic practices, based on fieldwork at "National Alternative Communities Meeting" (ENCA), as an entry point. The goal is to analyze "theoretical-empirical-methodological" issues involved on the ethnographic research, using concepts as "being affected", "symmetric anthropology" and "post-social anthropology". The ENCA is a meeting that take places for 40 years and brings together a multiplicity of practices commonly encapsulated within the concept, both emic and analytical (or etic), of New Age. One of those practices is shamanism, analyzed by many authors as "neoshamanism" or "urban shamanism", as opposed to a supposed "traditional indigenous shamanism". Seeking to conduct a "reverse anthropology" in accordance with Roy Wagner, or an "anthropology with" (instead of "an anthropology of") in terms of Tim Ingold, this project suggests the suspension of these classifications to perform a mapping of what is called as shamanism: shamanic practices themselves. The research will be carried out with some contemporary shamans and the various lines and flows involved - meetings, rituals, journeys to search for knowledge, lectures, courses. The practices to be followed and mapped are diverse: the Kambô, reiki, ayahuasca, peyote, temazcal, among others. The aspiration of this intent belongs to multiple levels: empirical - not only as a synonym of ethnographic, but also an experimentation and an empirical experience - that leads to theoretical and methodological issues - how to learn something, how to describe experiences - that points to a phenomenological approach, the study of the experience, or starting from it.

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