MARTOR no. 28 / year 2023

Bōlērākō-cu! / “Speak, I’m Talking to You!” Reconstructing the Self in Tamang Shamanism

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Vasile Albineț
National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Romania

Vasile Albineț recently completed a PhD in anthropology at the Department of Sociology of the National School of Political and Administrative Studies (SNSPA), Romania. He has conducted field research in the Himalayas, particularly in Nepal, and in South and Southeast Asia where he studied the Batak Palawan and Dayak tribes in Borneo, Indonesia.

PAGES: 164-189

KEYWORDS: Self; embodiment; spirit possession; shamanism; divination.


The social functions of ritual are well studied in anthropology, but their psychological and neural basis for reconfiguring the individual self remains less explored. This study focuses on the initiation ritual in Tamang shamanism in Nepal, demonstrating how cultural tools help transform the cognitive and embodied self-narratives of individuals experiencing various biopsychological disorders who engage in this ritual. Fragmentation, instability, and inconsistency create a separation between us and the world around us, as well as a disconnection from our own bodies. All of these are consequences of mental and physical suffering, and the central place where they manifest the self. Through the process of internalizing the preconfigured structure or framework embedded within the initiation ritual in Tamang shamanism, individuals reshape their own sense of self to align with the role and expectations of a shaman within their society.


Albineț, Vasile. 2023. “Bōlērākō-cu! / ‘Speak, I’m Talking to You!’ Reconstructing the Self in Tamang Shamanism.” Martor 28: 164-189. [DOI: 10.57225/martor.2023.28.11]

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