In Darkness and Secrecy

In Darkness and Secrecy

The Anthropology of Assault Sorcery and Witchcraft in Amazonia

  • Author: Whitehead, Neil L.; Wright, Robin; Wilbert, Johannes; Vidal, Silvia M.
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • ISBN: 9780822333333
  • eISBN Pdf: 9780822385837
  • Place of publication:  Durham , United States
  • Year of digital publication: 2004
  • Month: June
  • Pages: 336
  • DDC: 133.4/3/09811
  • Language: English
In Darkness and Secrecy brings together ethnographic examinations of Amazonian assault sorcery, witchcraft, and injurious magic, or “dark shamanism.” Anthropological reflections on South American shamanism have tended to emphasize shamans’ healing powers and positive influence. This collection challenges that assumption by showing that dark shamans are, in many Amazonian cultures, quite different from shamanic healers and prophets. Assault sorcery, in particular, involves violence resulting in physical harm or even death. While highlighting the distinctiveness of such practices, In Darkness and Secrecy reveals them as no less relevant to the continuation of culture and society than curing and prophecy. The contributors suggest that the persistence of dark shamanism can be understood as a form of engagement with modernity.

These essays, by leading anthropologists of South American shamanism, consider assault sorcery as it is practiced in parts of Brazil, Guyana, Venezuela, and Peru. They analyze the social and political dynamics of witchcraft and sorcery and their relation to cosmology, mythology, ritual, and other forms of symbolic violence and aggression in each society studied. They also discuss the relations of witchcraft and sorcery to interethnic contact and the ways that shamanic power may be co-opted by the state. In Darkness and Secrecy includes reflections on the ethical and practical implications of ethnographic investigation of violent cultural practices.

Contributors. Dominique Buchillet, Carlos Fausto, Michael Heckenberger, Elsje Lagrou, E. Jean Langdon, George Mentore, Donald Pollock, Fernando Santos-Granero, Pamela J. Stewart, Andrew Strathern, Márnio Teixeira-Pinto, Silvia Vidal, Neil L. Whitehead, Johannes Wilbert, Robin Wright

  • Contents
  • Introduction: Dark Shamanism, Neil L. Whitehead and Robin Wright
  • The Order of Dark Shamans among the Warao, Johannes Wilbert
  • Dark Shamans and the Shamanic State: Sorcery and Witchcraft as Political Process in Guyana and the Venezuelan Amazon, Silvia Vidal & Neil L. Whitehead
  • The Wicked and the Wise Men: Witches and Prophets in the History of the Northwest Amazon, Robin Wright
  • Sorcery Beliefs, Transmission of Shamanic Knowledge, and Therapeutic Practice among the Desana of the Upper Río Negro Region, Brazil, Dominique Buchillet
  • The Glorious Tyranny of Silence and the Resonance of Shamanic Breath, George Mentore
  • A Blend of Blood and Tobacco: Shamans and Jaguars among the Parakanã of Eastern Amazonia, Carlos Fausto
  • The Wars Within: Xinguano Witchcraft and Balance of Power, Michael Heckenberger
  • Siblings and Sorcerers: The Paradox of Kinship among the Kulina, Donald Pollock
  • Being Alone amid Others: Sorcery and Morality among the Arara, Carib, Brazil, Márnio Teixeira-Pinto
  • Sorcery and Shamanism in Cashinahua Discourse and Praxis, Purus River, Brazil, Elsje Lagrou
  • The Enemy Within: Child Sorcery, Revolution, and the Evils of Modernization in Eastern Peru, Fernando Santos-Granero
  • Commentary, E. Jean Langdon
  • Afterword: Substances, Powers, Cosmos, and History, Andrew Strathern & Pamela J. Stewart
  • Contributors
  • Index



By subscribing, you accept our Privacy Policy