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Microbes and Other Shamanic Beings

Authors: Giraldo Herrera, César Enrique

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  • Innovatively brings together microbiology and Amerindian shamanic practice, with a view to interrogating both as equals
  • Intertwines biocultural and ethnohistorical approaches
  • Provides a fresh comparative exploration sure to be of interest to anthropologists, historians and social scientists of medicine, science, and biology
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  • ISBN 978-3-319-71318-2
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  • ISBN 978-3-030-10041-4
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About this book

Shamanism is commonly understood through reference to spirits and souls. However, these terms were introduced by Christian missionaries as part of the colonial effort of conversion. So, rather than trying to comprehend shamanism through medieval European concepts, this book examines it through ideas that started developing in the West after encountering Amerindian shamans. Microbes and Other Shamanic Beings develops three major arguments: First, since their earliest accounts Amerindian shamanic notions have had more in common with current microbial ecology than with Christian religious beliefs. Second, the human senses allow the unaided perception of the microbial world; for example, entoptic vision allows one to see microscopic objects flowing through the retina and shamans employ techniques that enhance precisely these kinds of perception. Lastly, the theory that some diseases are produced by living agents acquired through contagion was proposed right after Contact in relation to syphilis, an important subject of pre-Contact Amerindian medicine and mythology, which was treasured and translated by European physicians. Despite these early translations, the West took four centuries to rediscover germs and bring microbiology into mainstream science. 
Giraldo Herrera reclaims this knowledge and lays the fundaments for an ethnomicrobiology. It will appeal to anyone curious about shamanism and willing to take it seriously and to those enquiring about the microbiome, our relations with microbes and the long history behind them.

About the authors

César E. Giraldo Herrera, biologist and social anthropologist, is the Victoria Maltby Junior Research Fellow at Somerville College and an Associate Researcher at the Institute for Science Innovation and Society (InSIS), School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME), University of Oxford, UK.


Reviews

“The book impresses by the breadth of its scope, the diverse literature it builds on, and the innovative bridges it establishes with research areas that have often been off-putting to social anthropologists. The hypothesis it explores is bold and imaginative, and it most certainly adds a new voice to microbial anthropology.” (Germain Meuelemans, Anthropological Notebooks, Vol. 25 (1), 2019)


“Amerindian shamans were the original microbiologists. Training their eyes inwards, as microscopes on the body, they had already discovered what we now call bacteria, how they cause disease, how disease spreads by contagion and how it can be treated, long before Europeans caught up with them. In this ground-breaking study, Giraldo Herrera meticulously unravels the traffic of bacterial infections, microscopic investigations and mythic elaborations that have bound Old and New Worlds over the centuries since they first came into contact. The history of science and medicine will never be the same again.” (Tim Ingold, University of Aberdeen, Scotland)

Table of contents (12 chapters)

Table of contents (12 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $44.99
price for USA in USD (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-71318-2
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $99.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-319-71317-5
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Immediate ebook access, if available*, with your print order
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $59.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-030-10041-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Immediate ebook access, if available*, with your print order
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Microbes and Other Shamanic Beings
Authors
Copyright
2018
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-71318-2
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-71318-2
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-319-71317-5
Softcover ISBN
978-3-030-10041-4
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XX, 274
Topics

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