Konstantinos Zorbas: Shamanism and Cultural Evidence of Intangible Violence in Tyva, Siberia


This article foregrounds an unofficial, “dark” strand of shamanic revival, which lies at the interstices of local inspirational religion and the state’s law in a Siberian periphery. Focusing on consultations concerned with ritual healing and counter-cursing in the Russian Republic of Tuva/Tyva, southern Siberia, the article documents a field of metaphysical disorder which is governed by shamans as purveyors of “forensic” evidence of cursing and as arbiters of justice. The data on counter-cursing consultations evince a social perception of shamanism as a redress for kinds of violence which transcend the limits of state law. Drawing on two shamanic narratives of affliction and its professionalization as a charisma for healing and revenge respectively, the article argues that a new kind of “forensic” evidence of crime and violence emerges from the materials on counter-cursing in Kyzyl (the capital city of Tyva). 

[Siberia, Tyva, shamanic genealogies, revivalism, affliction, terror, violence]