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Tragic SpiritsShamanism, Memory, and Gender in Contemporary Mongolia$
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Manduhai Buyandelger

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226086552

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226013091.001.0001

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Thriving and Silenced Stories

Thriving and Silenced Stories

(p.131) Four Thriving and Silenced Stories
Tragic Spirits

Manduhai Buyandelger

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 4 is about dynamics of memory and power through time. It examines contemporary memories of two female shamans who secretly practiced during socialism. The author explores the discrepancy between their reputations—memories of one are widespread and flamboyant, while those of the other are silent—despite locals’ claims that they were equal in power. The author argues that this discrepancy in narrative memory and its distribution is linked to the politics of power and gender among contemporary descendants and disciples. Each person discussed in the chapter remembers the two female shamans in a particular way based on their individual relationships with them, their current socio-economic concerns, and most importantly on their relationships with the state, both during socialism and after its collapse. The author develops the term “personal political projects” to explore the individual subjectivity and agency of each narrator. She further explores how and why shamanism was largely feminized during socialism, but without bringing female shamans officially recognized power due to the suppression of religion. After their deaths, these female shamans became origin spirits and thus sources of power, mainly for contemporary male shamans, who took center stage after socialism.

Keywords:   Power, Gender, Female shaman, Narrative, Subjectivity, Feminization of shamanism, State

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