Among Anthropologists, There Is A Fierce Controversy over the figure of the shaman, with some reserving the term for practitioners in hunter-gatherer societies in present-day Siberia (among whom the term originated), and others defining shaman more broadly to include any figure performing similar functions, from prehistory until today.1 Though the exact nature of these functions (and whether there is one, and only one, figure who performs them) is central to this controversy, the majority view is helpfully summarized by Russian anthropologist Anna Kuznetsova. She schematizes the Siberian shaman according to the following four attributes: (1) divine election involving dreams, (2) initiation through sickness and self-healing, (3) musical and dancing performances, and (4) responsibility for meeting the community's psychospiritual needs (Kuznetsoza 49). A proponent of the Siberian-only view, Kuznetsova argues that this specific religious figure has been improperly attributed to other cultures and civilizations, including her example of...

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