The Academic as Shaman

Posted: 26 Aug 2018

See all articles by Usman W. Chohan

Usman W. Chohan

UNSW Business School; Critical Blockchain Research Initiative (CBRI); Centre for Aerospace & Security Studies (CASS)

Date Written: August 3, 2018


The aim of this writing is to deconstruct a malaise within academia through the deployment of an ethnographic lens presented as a dichotomy between the huntress and shaman. It situates the role of academics within the historical habitus of the shaman, comparing them with the shamanistic ancestors to whom their spirit of inquiry provides a successor within the meta-social field. It then posits a transformation in the doxa of academia through the imposition of neoliberal forces on public values, which have monetized and taxonomized academics through a profit-motive and forced competition. This shift is described as a demand on the shaman to behave as a huntress, noting that she is a poor hunter in the neoliberal jungle for all of her needs, including grants, tenure, publications, and the like. It presents this ethnographic lens with a view to then identifying a means of curing the malaise in academia by reverting the academic to a habitus of shaman in contrast to the huntress.

Keywords: academia, public value, shamanism, neoliberalism, shaman

Suggested Citation

Chohan, Usman W., The Academic as Shaman (August 3, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Usman W. Chohan (Contact Author)

UNSW Business School ( email )

UNSW Business School
High St
Sydney, NSW 2052

Critical Blockchain Research Initiative (CBRI) ( email )

Centre for Aerospace & Security Studies (CASS) ( email )


Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics