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13 February 2018: Lewis Daley – “The Shaman is the White Man’s Computer”: The interaction of shamanism and conservation in Amazonian Guyana

This Tuesday, the Political Ecology group had the pleasure of welcoming Dr Lewis Daley from UCL’s Department of Anthropology, Environment, and Development, where he gave presented on two years of ethnographic research with the Makushi people of Southern Guyana. The indigenous Makushi people live in the Rupununi region of southern Guyana – an ecologically-diverse and seasonally-variable mosaic of rainforests, savannahs, and wetlands on the northerly fringes of the Amazon watershed. In recent years, this sparsely populated area has become the focal point for various conservation and development schemes. Yet shamanism, as an indigenous form of ritual practice and cosmo-political mediation, remains crucially important as a structuring aspect of Makushi life. Indeed, according to many, the power of the shaman (pia’san) to navigate the boundary between Makushi society and the world of Others (ratiko) is more critical than ever before. Within this context, Dr Daley’s talk investigated the complex intersection between conservation, development, and shamanism in Amazonian Guyana.

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