Decolonizing the Philosophy and Anthropology of Psychedelics


Dr Amelia Fiske (Technical University of Munich, Germany)
Prof. Christine Hauskeller (University of Exeter, UK)
Dr Ernesto Schwarz-Marin (University of Exeter, UK)
Luis Eduardo Luna (Wasiwaska Research Center, Brazil)
Dr Osiris Sinuhé González Romero (University of Saskatchewan, Canada)
Dr Peter Sjöstedt-Hughes (University of Exeter, UK)
Dr Taline Artinian (University of Exeter, UK)
Joseph Crickmore (University of Exeter, UK)

We explore the generative (yet controversial) nexus between indigenous medicine and Western psychedelic research conjoining philosophical and anthropological perspectives, with a view to decolonize psychedelic discourses and practices in the West. We will conduct investigatory text- and interview-based research studies and organize twelve intercultural dialogues/seminars and a public event.

For many decades the role of psychedelics in health has been overshadowed by the “war on drugs” and the criminalization of psychedelic substances. In parallel, recent years brought an accelerating clinical, political, financial, and cultural interest in their healing effects. A fast-growing number of clinical trials, especially in the US and the UK, aim to evidence the efficacy of psychedelics as part of therapies to overcome addiction, depression, and end-of-life anxieties.
The ethical, metaphysical, psycho-societal, and political facets of this development have hardly been faced. Psychedelic substances and brews such as psilocybin and ayahuasca have traditionally been associated with shamanic practices and indigenous healing. Their spread to Western countries has renewed attention in ritual practices and indigenous-led guidelines for consumption. Yet current tourism or pharmacological practices care little about the intersectional injustices readily re-enacted.

The “war on drugs” has contributed to the marginalization and oppression of racialized groups in the US and in the UK. The emerging critiques of cultural appropriation and biopiracy, however, do not account sufficiently for the practices of exchange and knowledge production that shape biomedicine. We will examine the phenomenology, philosophy, and cultural embedding of psychedelic practices.

Our interdisciplinary and interinstitutional collaboration studies the similarities and differences in Western and Latin American reflections on knowledge, experience, and embodiment.