From Medicine Men to Day Trippers: Shamanic Tourism

Plant Spirit Medicine Conference Oct 24-26, 2014 at UBCGreetings all. This is the second in a series of posts leading up to the fourth annual Spirit Plant Medicine Conference (SPMC) to be held at UBC in Vancouver October, 24-26.

That’s only 6 weeks away and events are moving quickly. Tickets are now on sale for the conference and can be purchased online at  the tickets page of the Spirit Plant Medicine Conference site or by calling the conference office at 604-435-5555.

As many of you know, the founder of Conscious Living Network, Andrew Rezmer, has for several years been hosting an excellent radio show on Vancouver’s Co-op radio (CFRO, 100.5 FM). Each Wednesday at 6 pm Pacific, Andrew and/or Tasha Simms interview leading figures in the body/mind/spirit field. The show also has many thousands of followers of the podcasts from the  their interviews at Conscious Living Radio.

We now have two of our presenters lined up for interviews prior to the conference with one or two more in the planning stages. Dr. Dennis McKenna, who we featured in our first post, will be interviewed on Wed. Oct. 1, and Dr. Andrew Feldmár, a well-known psychologist, long-time psychedelic explorer and guide, and a delightful raconteur, will be interviewed on Wed. Oct. 8. Please note that both these men have a wealth of knowledge and the focus of the interviews won’t be the same as the subject matter of their presentations at the conference.

Today we’d like to bring your attention to Evgenia Fotiou. Evgenia has a PhD in cultural anthropology and Latin American studies from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she completed her doctoral research on ayahuasca use in the context of tourism. She is currently Assistant Professor of anthropology at Kent State University in Ohio.

Evgenia is going to add a powerful and important voice to the conference this year. If you’ve had any involvement with ayahuasca I’m sure you’d agree that the issue of what Evgenia has labeled “shamanic tourism” is an important one as this work moves forward. She also comes highly recommended to us by trusted sources as an excellent speaker.

Evgenia has written a number of very timely papers on subjects related to spirit plant medicines and ayahuasca in particular. The title of her PhD thesis speaks for itself in regard to this relevance, “From medicine men to day trippers: Shamanic tourism in Iquitos, Peru.” Here’s a brief excerpt from the thesis followed by a link to read more:Day Tripper 200

One of the major questions that guided my research was “What are the motives of westerners who pursue ayahuasca experiences?” To answer this question I had to, just like them, travel to the remote and relatively isolated town of Iquitos in the Peruvian jungle. I went to the Amazon looking for what most tourists are looking for: authentic shamans. Ironically, my first encounters were with Western shamans and this was an early lesson in the forces of globalization. Ayahuasca tourism, or as I like to call it shamanic tourism, is a relatively new phenomenon, and has escalated in the last few decades. However, the Western fascination with shamanism and psychoactive plants and substances and the changes in consciousness that they produce is not new at all, but is deeply rooted in Western intellectual tradition.

Read more of Evgenia’s doctoral thesis here.

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