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‘Whatever you want to believe’ kaleidoscopic individualism and ayahuasca healing in Australia

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Abstract

Over the last fifteen years the use of the indigenous Amazonian psychoactive beverage ayahuasca has been reimagined in alternative healing circles of Western countries. This paper explores the practice of ayahuasca neoshamanism in Australia and examines ways in which acts of vomiting and ecstatic trance-visions involve heightened affective states and moral projects of healing. Aspects of everyday life are purged, rearticulated, and reconstituted in rituals where codes of conduct and discursive exchange encourage practices of personal evaluation and reflexivity that appear to index ideologies of individualism. Through exploring social and discursive prohibitions and forms of sensory organisation, the practice of drinking ayahuasca in Australia is shown to be constituted by ritual conventions that define the individual as autonomous and responsible in relation to ecstatic trance and articulations of wellbeing.

Gearin, A. K. (2015). ‘Whatever you want to believe’kaleidoscopic individualism and ayahuasca healing in Australia. The Australian Journal of Anthropology. https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/taja.12143
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