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Massage And Bushman Shamanism
Tuesday, March 19, 2019 - 18:45
The Bushmen of southern Africa are widely recognised as 'shamans'. Whilst this is a valuable way of describing their cosmology and healing, the terms 'shaman' and 'shamanism' are far from precise descriptions of what Bushmen actually think and do. In this talk I wish to discuss massage practices among Bushmen to provide both a more thorough introduction to Bushmen and Bushman healing, but also to highlight the contingent ways that scholars frame and write up their fieldwork experiences and interpretations. The talk will include brief film clips of a massage performance among Bushmen.
Evening talk information
Our evening talks include discussion, are free and open to all.
Next evening class
In the Batek’s forest, laughter and mockery are often subject to taboo, and inappropriate laughter or mockery can cause storms, madness, ill-health, or even death. However, although these taboos are viewed and described with utmost seriousness, people also find great pleasure in laughing together and making jokes. In fact, this pleasure is often intensified when the laughter or joke is forbidden and risks catastrophe. This sets up a dynamic whereby it is largely up to individuals whether they choose to follow the taboos, or to ignore them and succumb to the pleasure of sharing in subversive laughter. Speaking to debates on power and ethics, this paper therefore both outlines the Batek’s laughter taboos, and asks how managing the conflicting demands of laughter shapes people’s ethical values, particularly in relation to power, authority, and egalitarianism.