The routes of a plant: ayahuasca and the global networks of Santo Daime


This paper examines the Santo Daime religion, the Amazonian town of Céu do Mapiá which is one of its primary spiritual centres, and Ayahuasca, a key sacrament of the Santo Daime religion. The small village in the Amazon demonstrates the active outreach by a place which functions as a nexus of international and intercontinental flows of substances, bodies and meanings. The power of place is entwined with the story of religious belief and practice, which in turn depends on a tropical vine, Banisteriopsis caapi. In this networking process, we find a confluence of human agency with more-than-human agency, as well as the modalities of religious experience, crossing and dwelling. It is demonstrated that religious networking can be understood in terms of three forms of crossing (terrestrial, corporeal and cosmic) held together by the power of place (Mapiá and other subsidiary spiritual centres). In addition, three aspects of the ‘ayahuasca network’ are treated in depth: religious diffusion and adaptation, interaction with environmental movements and ideologies and contestation with legal structures and processes surrounding international drug traffic and the use of psychoactive substances.

Lowell, J. T., & Adams, P. C. (2016). The routes of a plant: ayahuasca and the global networks of Santo Daime. Social & Cultural Geography, 1-21.
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