Collecting Shamanic Songs in Nepal
Shamanic songs describe what the shaman does as he is doing it. The reflexive character of shamanic performances makes it necessary to study the oral tradition within its ritual context. In the course of his recitation, the shaman constantly changes perspective, sometimes playing the part of one or another of the protagonists in the narrative, and sometimes acting as an external commentator on the performance as a whole. This shifting perspective has significant implications for the collection of shamanic songs among a Tibeto-Burman minority population of western Nepal insofar as the songs are inextricably linked to performance. In addition to presenting examples of this phenomenon, my presentation will also explore how the changing socio-political context over the last 30 years has transformed the issues involved in this activity.