Roundtable - Cosponsored Status Awarded
Sponsored by: Society for Humanistic Anthropology
Cosponsored by: Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness
Primary Theme: Indigeneity
On February 3, 2018, Michael J. Harner transitioned to the realm of honored ancestors. In this memorial session, colleagues, former students, and family members will commemorate and share anecdotes, memories, stories, and assessments of Harner’s life, influence, and legacy as an anthropologist and scientist, and as a humanistic teacher/practitioner of shamanism. Harner’s academic career as a cultural anthropologist spanned a period of twenty-five years. His academic affiliations included: UC-Berkeley, Columbia, Yale, and the New School for Social Research where he held the rank of Professor of Anthropology. Well-known for ethnographic and theoretical accounts of: Amazonian peoples, including the Jívaro (Shuar) and Conibo; groundbreaking studies recognizing the significance of the role of hallucinogens in shamanism and cultures; and cultural materialist analyses of Aztec cannibalism, Harner left the academic world in 1987 to pursue his interests in shamanic healing and practices—for thirty more years—from an experiential and cross-cultural perspective. He pioneered workshops in what he identified as “core Shamanism,” founding along the way with Sandra Harner the Center for Shamanic Studies and The Foundation for Shamanic Studies (FSS). In addition to studying and practicing shamanism throughout his career, in workshops and in classrooms, he developed the use on sonic percussive drumming as a safe and accessible way to achieve what he called “shamanic states of consciousness.” His seminal book, The Way of the Shaman, has helped to re-introduce basic shamanic methods into the lives of people in cultures around the world. The FSS has, among many other significant achievements, helped to fund and preserve shamanic knowledge, notable shamans, and specific shamanic traditions and practices around the word. Its unique collection of shamanic journeys as well as the Foundation’s massive library, have become part of UC Berkeley’s special research library collection. Few anthropologists can claim to have directly touched the lives of so many people in so profound and significant a way as Harner’s life’s work in shamanic practice. Participants in this round table session, all of whom knew him and his work academically and personally, will comment on, assess, and remember his life’s work, his laugh and humor, and his original and creative ways of perceiving and understanding ordinary and shamanic realities.