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Undiscovering the Pueblo Mágico: Lessons from Huautla for the Psychedelic Renaissance

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The people of the Sierra Mazateca region of Mexico became internationally known in the 1950s for their ritual use of psilocybin mushrooms, and the Mazatec town of Huautla became a destination for mushroom seeking visitors. This chapter provides an overview of changing Mazatec and “outsider” discourses about mushrooms and the Sierra Mazateca over the last 60 years. It argues that “outsider” representations of the Sierra Mazateca and mushroom use—whether framed in terms of spiritual journeys or scientific research—tend to recapitulate some consistent patterns common to other forms of cultural tourism that owe more to the role of substances in marking distinctive cultural identities than to the effects of the substances themselves. It concludes by suggesting lessons from this history for the current moment, in which a discourse framing the use of psychedelic substances through universalizing narratives of science and individual health is becoming ascendant.

Feinberg, B. (2018). Undiscovering the Pueblo Mágico: Lessons from Huautla for the Psychedelic Renaissance. Plant Medicines, Healing and Psychedelic Science: Cultural Perspectives, 37-54. 10.1007/978-3-319-76720-8_3
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