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date: 21 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The shamanistic or neuropsychological model for interpreting rock arts generally, and hunter-gatherer rock arts in particular, emerged in South African rock art research. It has since been applied more widely, notably in efforts to explain the origins of art. The model has evolved over three decades, adapting to critiques and incorporating new ideas and theoretical advances. This chapter is concerned with its development, from its structural-semiotic origins to an account that attempts to incorporate history, diversity and the temporality of human action. The model’s adequacy as an account of visual production and whether it has escaped from the generalizations of grand theorizing are also considered.

Keywords: rock arts, shamanism, San, /Xam, ethnographic analogy, neuropsychology, South Africa, art history, phenomenology

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