- Term proposed by Graham Harvey referring to the ways in which Western (scholars and neo-shamans) might contribute to shamanisms in a reciprocal (decolonizing) way. Harvey borrows from Lewis Carroll’s Alice book, Through the Looking Glass (1872), in which Humpty Dumpty, according to Harvey, proposes that he can “use a word to mean just what he wanted it to mean, ‘neither more or less.’ If a word like glory or impenetrability is made to work hard, carrying unusual or idiosyncratic meanings, Humpty Dumpty says he ‘pays it extra.’ ‘Shamanism’ is now a hard working word” (Harvey 1997, 106). In his Shamans/Neo-Shamans (2003), Robert Wallis offers a critical examination of neo-shamans, including an analysis of how they pay “shamans” extra by valuing the term and adding and combining new things with it—from regarding the term shaman as honorific rather than a commodity (your community rather than yourself calls you a shaman) and actively engaging in causes for indigenous self-determination, to expressing perceptions of shamanic practice that involve danger and uncertainty where other neo-shamans romanticize, decontextualize, and psychologize these issues.
Historical dictionary of shamanism. Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis. 2007.
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