It’s all you! Australian ayahuasca drinking, spiritual development, and immunitary individualism

Rodd, Robin (2018) It’s all you! Australian ayahuasca drinking, spiritual development, and immunitary individualism. Critique of Anthropology, 38 (3). pp. 325-345.

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Ayahuasca, a psychoactive plant decoction, has spread from indigenous communities in South America to urban areas in the Americas, Europe and Australia where it is used in neoshamanic rituals. This paper draws on ethnography of Australian ayahuasca ceremonies to examine the ways that individualism shapes the structure of ayahuasca rituals, the interpretation of visionary experiences, and notions of spiritual development. I show how the metaphors that Australian drinkers involved in this study use to understand their ayahuasca experiences and spiritual development reflect a form of immunitary individualism, which is premised on the negation of difference and relationality. Secular disenchantment and a culture of narcissism may drive people to seek ayahuasca, but transcendence is interpreted in terms of an expansive, non-relational self. In this sense, neoshamanic ayahuasca culture may be an escape from and reproduction of the culture of narcissism associated with the malaise of modernity.

Item ID: 49975
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0308-275X
Keywords: ayahuasca, spirituality, individualism, immunitary self, neoshamanism
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2018 05:28
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4401 Anthropology > 440107 Social and cultural anthropology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 40%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950404 Religion and Society @ 60%
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