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Healing Encounters: Reinventing an indigenous medicine in the clinic and beyond

Contrat ERC (2018-2022) 
Coordinatrice: Emilia Sanabria

 

This project aims to develop a symmetrical, ethnographically grounded theory of what healing entails from the perspective of those who give, receive or evaluate healing. It is designed to break with binary frames that contrast indigenous and biomedical healing, positioning them on a tradition–modernity continuum. To do this, it will study the striking expansion and prolific reinventions of healing practices that make use of the Amazonian herbal brew ayahuasca. The unprecedented globalization of this indigenous medicine provides a unique opportunity to study healing encounters ethnographically. The project will examine healing across three related sites: Healing in the City will examine the production of neo-traditional urban healing forms. Healing in the Laboratory will analyse how ayahuasca is reinvented as a psychiatric tool to treat mental health problems and Healing in the Forest will study the contemporary reconfigurations of indigenous shamanism in Amazonia. These practices are entangled in long histories of postcolonial encounters: they are all – neotraditional, biomedical and indigenous alike – thoroughly modern and mixed. The comparative analysis is structured around three transversal objectives: 1) Material Semiotics: will map the entanglement of biological and symbolic effects; 2) Encounters Beyond-the-Human: will push medical anthropology beyond the human by paying attention to the healing propitiated by more-than-human beings and 3) Radical Alterity in a Common World of Encounters. 

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