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December 2021

Engendering Peruvian shamanism through time: Insights from ethnohistory and ethnography

Journal/Book: Ethnohistory. 1999; 46: 905 W Main St, Ste 18-B, Durham, NC 27701, USA. Duke Univ Press. 205-238.

Abstract: Using ethnohistorical and original ethnographic research, this article explores the impact of gender on northern Peruvian shamanism. It suggests that structured gender inequality, in the colonial as well as contemporary eras, contributes to gender differences in both conception of illness and strategy for cure. Specifically, gender differences in socially defined roles, including gender-specific definitions of morality, make women especially vulnerable to accusations of sorcery. Similarly, women sometimes manipulate sorcery beliefs to absolve themselves from blame when unable to live up to role expectations. The article argues that female shamans encourage women to accept these gendered definitions of morality as an important preamble to empowerment and cure, thus allowing women to utilize their oppression to create meaning even when this cannot be easily transcended. Finally, the article positions these ethnographic findings within feminist theories in both anthropology and theology.

Note: Article Glass-Coffin B, Utah State Univ, Logan,UT 84322 USA

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