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Do shamans violate notions of humanness?

  • Nick Haslam (a1)


Singh proposes that shamans violate notions of humanness in patterned ways that signal supernatural capacities. I argue that his account, based on a notion of humanness that contrasts humans with non-human animals, does not capture people's understandings of supernatural beings. Shamanic behavior may simply violate human norms in unstructured, improvised ways rather than contrast with a coherent concept of humanness.



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Haslam, N., Kashima, Y., Loughnan, S., Shi, J. & Suitner, C. (2008) Subhuman, inhuman, and superhuman: Contrasting humans with nonhumans in three cultures. Social Cognition 26:248–58. doi:10.1521/soco.2008.26.2.248.
Ojamaa, T. (1997) The shaman as a zoomorphic human. Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore 4:7792.
Waytz, A., Hoffman, K. M. & Trawalter, S. (2015) A superhumanization bias in whites' perception of blacks. Social Psychological and Personality Science 6:352–59. doi:10.1177/1948550614553642.


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