Janaki Phillips

Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-13-2014

Major Department or Program



Jason Pribilsky


Since the 1980’s shamanism has experienced a global “renaissance” after being a popular and academic dead issue for decades. This resurgence includes increased scholarly attention, as well as an increase in practice and new forms of shamanism— particularly neo-shamanism in the West. By asking: how do contemporary shamanic practitioners interact with modernity, I hope to disentangle more than just the ways contemporary practitioners have appropriated or adapted shamanism to fit their contexts,but also what shamanism has to offer modernity in way of social critique. I focus on core shamanism, one such “brand” of neo-shamanism. Developed by anthropologist “gone native” Michael Harner, core shamanism draws from multicultural techniques—such as drumming to attain an altered state of consciousness—to form a distilled set of practices for a Western audience. I will discuss both the Western assumptions and potential for social critique embedded within core shamanism.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Shamanism -- Customs and practices, Michael J. Harner -- Attitudes, Modern Civilization -- Social aspects, Altered states of consciousness -- Problems and exercises, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2014 -- Anthropology Department

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Public Accessible Thesis

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