Anthropologists of recent generations have always expressed enormous sympathy with 'non-rational' modes of thought, with the 'supernatural' experiences of people around the world. What they have rarely in their scholarly writing admitted to doing is giving any credence to the 'irrational' themselves—though such beliefs have long been common among those who have lived and worked for extended periods in cultures different from those that dominate Western society.
Now, in a ground-breaking volume, leading anthropologists describe such experiences and analyze what can occur "when one opens one's self to aspects of experience that previously have been ignored or repressed." The ten contributions to the book include Edith Turner on 'A Visible Spirit Form in Zambia', Rab Wilkie on 'Ways of Approaching the Shaman's World', and Marie Francoise Guedon on 'Dene Ways and the Ethnographer's Culture'. The editors' introduction and conclusion extensively discuss the general issues involved.
Being Changed is a book that directly challenges the rationalist bias in Western tradition by developing a new, 'experimental' approach to extraordinary experiences—and a book that takes traditional cultures seriously in a way that anthropology has rarely done before.
About the authors
Jean-Guy Goulet is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Calgary.
David E. Young is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alberta. He is the author of Cry of the Eagle: Encounters with a Cree Healer (University of Toronto Press, 1990).