chapter  1
43 Pages

Introduction

Neoliberalism is shorthand for far-reaching structural transformations in the global economy in recent decades. This chapter considers shamanism in relation to Foucault's analysis of homo economicus and governmentality. It also considers the reverse perspective by paying attention to shamans' relations with their body. The work of Jean and John Comaroff in particular is distinguished by their sensitivity to how neoliberalism challenges not only conceptions of sovereign power in South Africa, but also commodification and the commodity form. Foucault's account of neoliberalism fits into his larger analysis of the emergence of governmentality and biopolitics, the subjects of his 1978 and 1979 lectures at the Collège de France. The Society for Shamanic Practitioners (SSP) describes itself as a public benefit corporation whose goal is to support the re-emergence of shamanism into modern, western culture. The SSP is a good example of how in recent years shamanism discourse has adopted the language of professionalism and entrepreneurialism. Increasingly, shamans are professional practitioners.