A Phenomenological Account of Yanomami Shamanism


  • Giancarlo Rolando University of Virginia


The Yanomami people of Brazil and Venezuela have been an integral part of anthropological debates, as well as wider conversations, for a long time. Their remote location on the Brazilian-Venezuelan border, as well as an undeserved reputation for being a “fierce people”, have made the Yanomami the object of fascination of anthropologists, journalists, environmental activists and many others. In consequence, the Yanomami case is an unusual one among the peoples of the South American Lowlands, in the sense that there is a considerable amount of publications about them, both in the academic and non-academic press. However, a Western fascination with the warfare practices of this people has left other aspects of their social life and culture absent, or almost absent, from the ethnographic record. For this reason, Jokic presents us with a book on Yanomami shamanic and health practices. In this book, Jokic’s offers a phenomenological ethnographic approach to the world of Yanomami shamanism (shaporimou). Through his approach, Jokic seeks to explain the dynamics of visionary experiences and how is it that the shaman’s body is a model of the totality of the Yanomami cosmos. Finally, Jokic’s discussion of Yanomami dwellings and shaman’s bodies demonstrates that the Yanomami cosmos is organized under a holographic principle.