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Shamans, Nostalgias, and the IMFSouth Korean Popular Religion in Motion$
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Laurel Kendall

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833435

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833435.001.0001

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Korean Shamans and the Spirits of Capitalism

Korean Shamans and the Spirits of Capitalism

(p.129) 5 Korean Shamans and the Spirits of Capitalism
Shamans, Nostalgias, and the IMF

Laurel Kendall

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter describes the kinds of problems that clients brought to shamans before, during, and after the financial crisis of late 1997. It argues that small-scale entrepreneurs are no less in need of enchantment as they grapple with an uncertain market. Their religious practices, no less than those of the peasants, miners, and proletarians described in other places, are a means of apprehending, of attempting to exert some control over seemingly arbitrary market motion. The work of shamans, spirits, and clients described here offers another instance of how“lived realities defy easy dualisms”: “Worlds everywhere are complex fusions of what we like to call modernity and magicality, rationality and ritual, history and the here and now.” The emergent quality of shaman rituals addresses the world of struggling entrepreneurs through the appearances of Officials and Spirit Warriors of Business and Commerce and songs improvised to celebrate the appearance of customers who pay with cash and not credit.

Keywords:   shamans, shamanism, 1997 financial crisis, capitalism, South Korea, entrepreneurs

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