Tricksters and Trancers

Tricksters and Trancers : Bushman Religion and Society

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... a first-rate piece of scholarship... an invaluable summary and commentary on the multilingual literature on [Bushman] people." -ChoiceThe trickster and trance dancer are the guides through Bushman (or San) religion, a world of ambiguity and contradiction, and of enchantment. The two figures, who in Bushman belief are symbolically equivalent and mystically linked, embody these antistructural traits.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 154 x 230 x 22mm | 539.77g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 2 maps, 1 bibliog., 1 index
  • 0253213444
  • 9780253213440
  • 1,046,054

Review quote

Despite the voluminous material on Botswana's Bushman (the contentious ethnic label knowingly adopted by the author), this is an important contribution for a number of reasons. First, Guenther (Wilfrid Univ., Canada) provides an invaluable summary and commentary on the multilingual literature on these people. Second, and more important, the text takes up the topic of Bushman religion and cosmology, which, like its social organization, is fluid and varied. In discussing this relatively neglected concern, the author pays particular attention to the significance of the trickster, an ambiguous and disorderly creature from the beginning of time in indigenous thought, and the trance state, an important feature of Bushman ritual system. The value of Guenther's long-term fieldwork among a segment of these people is clearly demonstrated in his examination of these topics and in their relationship to gender issues. He concludes with a suggestion for anthropologists to pay greater heed to the relevance of ambiguity in Bushman society and cosmology but does not mention the theoretical work of Simmel in this context. Otherwise, this is a first-rate piece of scholarship. Upper-division undergraduates and above.W. Arens, SUNY at Stony Brook, 2000jul CHOICE.show more

About Mathias Guenther

Mathias Guenther, Professor of Sociology and anthropology at Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario, is the author of The Farm Bushmen of the Ghanzi District, Botswana; The Nharo Bushmen of Botswana: Tradition and Change; and Bushman Folktales :Oral Traditions of the Nharo of Botswana and the Xam of the Cape.show more

Table of contents

Preface iChapter 1: Introduction: The Challenge of Bushman Religion 1The Challenge of Bushman Religion 4 Bushman Religion: A Brief Summary 9 Notes on Methodology and Orthography 10Chapter 2: Bushman Society 15Nharo Society, 1790's to 1890's 17Nharo Society, 1890's to 1990's 25Bushman Social Organization 29Chapter 3: Values and Individuals 50Values 53The Individual 63Bushman Society's " Struggle of Society against the State" 71Chapter 4: Belief and Cosmology 74The Diversity and Ambiguity of Bushman Belief 75Divinity 78Mantis and Moon Worship? 81Cosmogony: Primal Time 84Cosmology: The Human-Animal Nexus 89Ambiguity of Bushman Religion: Social and Cultural Factors 101Social-Structural Factors: 102Cognitive-Cultural Factors: 107"Foraging for Ideas": The Factor of Acculturation 110Socio-Cultural Change and Bushman Religion 118Chapter 5: The Trickster 121The Trickster's Many Faces 124The Embodiment of Ambiguity 128The Trickster as God 139Gauwa Meets Jesus Christ 147The Abomination of the Trickster God 153Chapter 6: Stories, Story Telling and Story Gathering: 160 The Case of the Moon and the Hare Textual Variation of the Myth 162Story Transmission and the Foraging Ethos 169Foraging Ideology or Ideology of Foraging? 178 The Text and Its Meaning 181Chapter 7: Myth and Gender 185Gender Relations in Bushman Society 187Gender Relations in Bushman Myth and Lore 190The Equality of Bushmen and Women 198The Limitations of Structural Analysis 202Chapter 8: Initiation Rites 207Female Initiation 209Male Initiation 211Variations 214Male Initiation or Hunting Magic? 218Transition and Transformation 219Transformation, Anti-Structure and Egalitarianism 225Chapter 9: The Trance Dance 228Liminality, Transformation and Transcendence 231The Trance Dance and Cultural Revitalization 2show more

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