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Spirituality, drugs, and tourism: tourists’ and shamans’ experiences of ayahuasca in Iquitos, Peru

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Abstract

This study critically evaluates the complex inter space of spirituality, drugs, and tourism through tourists’ and shamans’ accounts of ayahuasca tourism in Iquitos, Peru. Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic beverage traditionally consumed for spiritual and health purposes. Using micro-ethnography, one of the researchers was immersed for one month in the tourism experience of ayahuasca. The findings reveal the ambivalent nature of tourists’ experiences and the changing meaning and practices of ayahuasca. Tourists’ encounters with ayahuasca were perceived as spiritual due to better understanding and perception of ‘self’ and ‘others’. Shamans’ encounters with tourists were mostly positive but negative consequences on their practices were evident. The study highlights issues of fluidity, positionality, and self-identification of roles in tourism.

Prayag, G., Mura, P., Hall, C. M., & Fontaine, J. (2016). Spirituality, drugs, and tourism: tourists’ and shamans’ experiences of ayahuasca in Iquitos, Peru. Tourism Recreation Research, 1-12. 10.1080/02508281.2016.1192237
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