‘Producing’ Thangmi Ritual Texts: Practice, performance and collaboration


  • Sara Shneiderman


This article considers the methodological, ethical and political issues surrounding what I will call the ‘production’ of Thangmi ritual texts. As an anthropologist, I am currently engaged with community members in the process of creating some of the first written versions of hitherto orally transmitted shamanic recitations in Thangmi, a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in eastern Himalayan parts of Nepal and India. Here I address some of the challenges that scholars may face when working with communities who are actively involved in the process of debating their own relationships with orality and textuality. What do we do when there is no clear consensus on the way forward, no single ‘community perspective’ that we can represent, nor a single form of ‘tradition’ that we can ‘document’? I want to be somewhat provocative and suggest that in such circumstances we have no choice but to fully acknowledge our own complicit roles in producing certain kinds of textual forms, which may or may not bear a direct relation to indigenous forms of practice or performance as we observe them. For this reason, I suggest that the concept of ‘documentation’ may not be adequate to describe the role of scholars in the process of generating...


ThangmiNepalIndiashamanic recitationsritual textsdocumentationproductionpracticeperformancecollaborationoral traditions
  • Year: 2010
  • Volume: 8
  • Page/Article: 159-174
  • DOI: 10.25894/ldd222
  • Published on 31 Jul 2014