Shamanism as a research subject: some methodological viewpoints


  • Gustav Ränk


Methodology, Shamans, Shamanism -- Study, Shamanism -- Bibliography, Shamanism -- Russia, Shamanism -- Definition, Concepts, Categories


There is hardly any other ethnological or historico-religious subject that has had such a great power of attraction on scholars or on other more or less popular writers as shamanism, particularly in its North-Eurasian version, the one dealt with in this essay. To be convinced of this one need only look at the bibliographical works on the subject. The bibliography on the Russian literature dealing with this subject, published by the Russian scholar A. Popov in 1932, on its own includes more than 65o articles and long essays. Thirty years have passed since then, and interest in shamanism has far from died out among Russian scholars. In addition there are essays on the subject written in other languages. North-Eurasian shamanism, as is known, does not comprise a completely unified phenomenon, but exists in different gradated forms that not seldom take on a strong local colouring. Not only does the personality make-up of the shamans vary, but so do their authority, their pattern of behaviour, and professional equipment, and all this provides a fertile soil for different theoretical reconstructions and generalizations.



How to Cite

Ränk, G. (1967). Shamanism as a research subject: some methodological viewpoints. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 1, 15–22.