Centre for Himalayan Studies
UPR 299
Members of the research unit
Aurélie Névot

Researcher at the CNRS


UPR 299 Centre d'Etudes Himalayennes, CNRS
7 rue Guy Môquet
94800 Villejuif CEDEX

Email: anevot@vjf.cnrs.fr


Aurélie Nevot is an ethnologist. She has been carrying out research since 1998 in the Yunnan province in China where she has studied the religion of the Nipa (Sani branch of the Yi nationality): a form of shamanism based on the use of secret writing which is reserved for shamans called Masters of psalmody, bimo . This literate shamanism (to which A. NEVOT has devoted two books, published in 2008 and 2013) is effective only by voicing ritual texts and thereby allows one to rethink the relationship between orality and writing.

In addition to the writing process, A. NEVOT's interests lie in "ritual machinery" (bloody sacrifices), and she highlights the fact that the Nipa ontology is of the transsubstantialiste type. With a keen interest in debates that animate contemporary anthropology, she is hoping to reintroduce the concept of "substance" by developing a transcultural and transdisciplinary theoretical approach around this notion of transsubstantialism. Her professorial thesis, entitled “Scriptural Metaphysics of the Masters of Psalmody” and which she is presenting in order to obtain accreditation to supervise research, develops this topic.

In addition, A. NEVOT is developing an anthropology of transmission (she held seminars on "The transmission among shamans and mediums" from 2010 to 2012) and edited a collective and interdisciplinary volume on the master-disciple relationship (published in 2013). Another part of her research addresses the interrelationship between religion and politics—the Chinese government having launched a process to standardize rituals and to secularize shamanic writing—and the phenomena of inculturation and acculturation by Christianity—since Catholicism was introduced among the Nipa in the 19th century.

The phenomenon of institutionalizing bimo literary shamanism in the late 1990s has led her to examine the heritage process as it has been implemented in China since 2003 under cover of UNESCO. Furthermore, the city of Shanghai, which hosted the World Expo in 2010, and where the Chinese authorities are planning to build a dozen museums by 2015, has proved to be an extremely fertile place for trying to understand this phenomenon. Fascinated by the Shanghai Museum and its counterpart, the Crown of the East (China National Pavilion built for the World Expo), A. NEVOT sets out to highlight in her latest book (published in 2014) that this building is a ritual instrument that reflects the new cosmological orientation of China in the eyes of the international community.

And lastly, A. NEVOT has recently devoted herself to the study of the ritual treatment of death among the Nipa. Her thoughts focus on eschatology (relation with the dead body, funeral rites, ancestor worship, books of the dead) as it appears in the discourse and the mythology of the Yi branch, but also as enshrined in the manuscripts and in the rituals of the Masters of the psalmody. The latter are indeed the only persons responsible for funerals that ensure the transformation of a corpse into an ancestor.

A. NEVOT currently contributes to several research groups within CEH, LESC and EHESS. She is actively involved in two research programmes: an interdisciplinary project, " Pratiquer le comparatisme : Terrains, Textes, Artefacts " (Practising comparatism: Land, Texts, Artefacts) at EHESS, which is coordinated by Marcello Carastro, Silvia Intino, Caterina Guenzi and Frédérique Ildefonso, and another, funded by the ANR " Vieux maîtres et nouvelles générations de spécialistes religieux en Chine aujourd'hui : ethnographie du quotidien et anthropologie du changement social " (Old masters and new generations of religious specialists in China today: Ethnography of daily life and anthropology of social change) which is coordinated by Adeline Herrou (LESC).

Keywords: acculturation - bimo -  shamanism - China - body - Christianity - secret writing - ethnopolitics - World Expo - governance - inculturation - onthology - patrimonialisation - Chinese pavilion - bloody sacrifice - Shanghai - transmission - trans-substantiation - Yi – Yunnan

Fieldwork: China – Yunnan - Shanghai

Main publications:

2014b. The Crown of the East: The Centre of the New World in Shanghai, in International Japanese Studies No. XI (Hosei University), pp. 61-83

2014 a . The Politics of Ethnicity in China and the Process of Homogenization of th Yi Nationality, in M. Carrin, P. Kanungo et G. Toffin (éd.), The Politics of ethnicity in India, Nepal and China (Delhi, Primus), pp. 279-300

2013 a . Versets chamaniques. Le Livre du sacrifice à la terre (textes rituels du Yunnan, Chine). Nanterre : Société d'ethnologie (collection Écritures)

2013b. De l'un à l'autre. Maîtres et disciples. Paris : Editions du CNRS

2013c. Au fil de la transmission. Un corps à corps maître-disciple, in De l'un à l'autre. Maîtres et disciples (A. Névot (dir.)). Paris : Editions du CNRS

2012 a Literate Shamanism in Southwestern China: Bimo Religion, the State and Christianity. SHAMAN: International Journal of Shamanistic Research 20 (1) : 23-54

2012 b Par-delà la structure, en deçà de la relation. Approche anthropologique du "phénomène transsubstantialiste", Annales de Phénoménologie 11 : 181-199

2011 "Construire" un esprit qui prêtre l'oreille : le corps de l'ancêtre chez les Yi (Chine) , Réseau Asie . De mort à ancêtre : Statut et transformations du corps (Chine, Indonésie, Japon, Mélanésie, Vietnam)

2011 "Une écriture secrète sur la scène publique en Chine", Revue de l'histoire des religions , 228 (2), pp. 227-243

2010 "Religion et écriture en Chine : le chamanisme yi (Yunnan)" (translated into Persan by N. Fakouhi),  in N. Fakouhi (ed), Recueil d'articles de la première et de la deuxième conférence de l'anthropologie de l'art ( majmou-ye avalin va dovomin hamandishi-ye ensanshenasi-ye honar), Téhéran: Éditions de l'Académie de l'Art Iranienne, pp. 229-63

2010 "Paul Vial (1855-1917) - le 'Père des esprits'. L'inculturation d'un prêtre catholique en Chine", in Servais P. (éd.), Christianisme et Orient, 17e -21e siècles, Louvain-La-Neuve, Bruylant-Academia, pp. 153-175

2009 "Chamanes et intellectuels d'État : les transcriptions de la mémoire écrite des Nipa (Yunnan/Chine)", in Krauskopff G. (ed.), Les Faiseurs d'histoire, Politique de l'origine et écrits sur le passé, Nanterre, Société d'ethnologie, pp. 217-246

2008 "Une écriture chamanique bonne pour gouverner. Du processus de nationalisation des caractères d'écriture ni en caractères d'écriture yi", in Baptandier B. et Charuty C. (ed.), Du corps au texte. Approches comparatives, Nanterre, Société d'ethnologie, pp. 293-323

2008 Comme le sel, je suis le cours de l'eau. Le chamanisme à écriture des Yi du Yunnan (Chine) , Nanterre, Société d'ethnologie, 317 p.

2001 "Nisi, l'écriture des Nipa", Chiner la Chine (B. Baptandier), Ateliers
(Nanterre, Laboratoire d'ethnologie et sociologie comparative), n° 24, pp. 125-173

Complete list of publications