Thomas Alberts offers a deeply researched and insightful take on shamans and shamanism, in particular the “homogenizing universalism” that has generalized the image of the shaman and the diffuse set of practices and beliefs we now call “shamanism” in Western discourse on indigenous identity (58). Shamanism, Discourse, Modernity does not pursue an ethnography of shamanism so much as, first, a kind of Foucauldian archaeology of the concept and, second, an exploration of the ways in which shamanism as a kind of expanded symbol intersects with modern discourses on environmentalism and neoliberalism, as a model of and for indigenous rights, environmental justice, and the commodification of religion.

Alberts opens with a useful exploration of the Western discovery of shamans in Siberia in the late seventeenth century, surveying a wide range of primary and secondary source material, and he traces the expansion of the...

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