Spiritually Enmeshed, Socially Enmeshed

Shamanism and Belonging in Ulaanbaatar

in Social Analysis
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Abstract

This article examines how shamanic practices can, through the generation of a spiritualized narrative past, relocate individual subjectivities in an extensive web of relationships that include and extend beyond living relatives. The analysis describes the transition from collective to individual responsibility and concurrent feelings of dislocation that occurred in Mongolia at the end of the socialist period. Referring to the biography of a young Mongolian woman, the article looks at how the vertical ontologies present in Mongolian shamanic practice have relocated Enkhjargal in extended kinship connections, building cosmologically enmeshed relationships that reach back into the pre-socialist past. In the increasingly fluid and unpredictable urban environment of Ulaanbaatar, it explores a living instance of re-engagement and attendant growth in both obligation and capacity.

Contributor Notes

Saskia Abrahms-Kavunenko received her doctorate from the University of Western Australia. Her doctoral dissertation explores the resurgence of Buddhism in Ulaanbaatar, following the end of socialism in Mongolia in 1990. She is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

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