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Anthropology of religion : religious specialists, Shamanism

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  1. Victor Turner's religious specialist definition
  2. Preists and Prophets
  3. Functions a shaman filled in a village in Taiwan

This essay is based on the articles of Margery Wolf's "The woman who didn't become a Shaman? and Victor Turner's "one Religious Specialists?. In his study of the religious specialists, Victor W.Turner tries to give us a mere definition of this phenomenon in order to show that they all share the ability to "manipulate the supernatural to their own or society's ends" and that they all have a culturally defined status coming from a social recognition. Then he tries to make a comparative study and distinctions between the different religious specialists according to the scale and the complexity of the societies where they live. His opinion was that the social organization has an impact on the role and the status of the religious specialist. Margery Wolf's work focuses on the specific case of a woman from northern Taiwan who didn't succeed in becoming a shaman. Her study is conducted on a structural- functional approach. This means that she tries to prove that "a shaman cannot function as a shaman without the continual appreciation of clients". According to Margery Wolf, religious specialists can be so only if they reach the necessary social criteria and she demonstrates that Mrs. Chen had too many social burdens to be accepted as a shaman and to achieve religious authority.

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