‘I haven’t fully understood – is shamanism religion or not?’

Some reflections on the concepts of shamanism and religion in Soviet discourse

Authors

  • Olle Sundström

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.33356/temenos.73111

Abstract

In this essay the Marxist-Leninist understanding of the concept ‘religion’ is analysed in relation to how it was applied to the so-called shamanism of the indigenous peoples of the Soviet North. The point of departure is the correspondence between the head of the Council for the Affairs of Religious Cults in the Soviet Far East and his superior in Moscow. Further, the legal consequences of the somewhat varying Soviet understandings of ‘religion’ for people adhering to indigenous worldviews and ritual traditions in the Far East is presented. The essay aims to exemplify how definitions of ‘religion’, as well as the categorising of something as ‘religion’ or not, rely on social and political circumstances, and whether one finds ‘religion’, as well as the entities classified as such, to be positive or negative for the individual and society.

Author Biography

Olle Sundström

OLLE SUNDSTRÖM is Associate Professor of the History of Religions at Umeå University, Sweden. He took his PhD under the supervision of Professor Håkan Rydving in 2009. E-mail: olle.sundstrom@umu.se

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Published

2018-07-04

How to Cite

Sundström, O. (2018). ‘I haven’t fully understood – is shamanism religion or not?’: Some reflections on the concepts of shamanism and religion in Soviet discourse. Temenos - Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion, 54(1), 9–27. https://doi.org/10.33356/temenos.73111