The Domestication of Souls

A Comparative Approach to Mesoamerican Shamanism

in Social Analysis
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  • 1 National School of Anthropology in Mexico City smillan@prodigy.net.mx
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Following the distinction between horizontal and vertical shamanism originally proposed by Stephen Hugh-Jones, this article examines the concept of nagualism in different Mesoamerican indigenous societies and the role that animal domestication has played in these conceptions. Through a comparative study of indigenous societies like the Nahua, Huave, and Tzotzil Maya, different relationships between the human and animal worlds are analyzed in order to show the changes in ontological frameworks that took place during the colonial period, through the introduction of extensive livestock farming. As a protective institution, post-colonial nagualism developed in indigenous societies that have domesticated animals because farmers see their relationship with their flocks similarly to the connection between themselves and their protecting spirits.

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

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