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From Demonic Agency to Divine Presence: A Study of Human-Entity Relations at an Ayahuasca Treatment Centre

Stuveback, Christoffer LU (2015) SANM03 20142
Social Anthropology
Abstract
The present thesis is a qualitative exploration of a group of patients’ experiences of going through an ayahuasca treatment as well as the human-entity relations they come to be constitutive of during the treatment. The ingestion of ayahuasca allows the drinker to enter a non-ordinary reality which opens up the possibility of having encounters with demons, spirits, angels, saints, animals and God, as perceived by informants. The findings presented here are based on seven weeks of fieldwork at Takiwasi, a drug rehabilitation centre in Tarapoto, Peru, and entailed ethnographic interviewing and participant observation of patients currently at the centre. By widening the notion of ‘the social’, of what constitutes social relationships, using... (More)
The present thesis is a qualitative exploration of a group of patients’ experiences of going through an ayahuasca treatment as well as the human-entity relations they come to be constitutive of during the treatment. The ingestion of ayahuasca allows the drinker to enter a non-ordinary reality which opens up the possibility of having encounters with demons, spirits, angels, saints, animals and God, as perceived by informants. The findings presented here are based on seven weeks of fieldwork at Takiwasi, a drug rehabilitation centre in Tarapoto, Peru, and entailed ethnographic interviewing and participant observation of patients currently at the centre. By widening the notion of ‘the social’, of what constitutes social relationships, using Hallowell’s concept of a behavioural environment as an environment inhabited by entities of different classes - affecting actual behaviour - the agency and characteristics of entities are delineated. The conditions under which these entities come to be as agents are connected to certain cultural variables of the centre: the religious-spiritual milieu on the physical premises in Catholic iconography and edifices, activities such as Christian prayer, mass and use of items during ceremony, and the amalgamation of the Amazonian spirit-world and the Catholic belief-system in Takiwasi philosophy. The latter allows for both spirits of different orders and Christian personages – Jesus, Mary, and other saints - to be at play and present simultaneously, in ceremony and outside of it. It is concluded that the entities encountered have a crucial importance for the lives of informants and are felt as just as real – though different in form and substance – as any relationship. (Less)
Popular Abstract
The present thesis is a qualitative exploration of a group of patients’ experiences of going through an ayahuasca treatment as well as the human-entity relations they come to be constitutive of during the treatment. The ingestion of ayahuasca allows the drinker to enter a non-ordinary reality which opens up the possibility of having encounters with demons, spirits, angels, saints, animals and God, as perceived by informants. The findings presented here are based on seven weeks of fieldwork at Takiwasi, a drug rehabilitation centre in Tarapoto, Peru, and entailed ethnographic interviewing and participant observation of patients currently at the centre. By widening the notion of ‘the social’, of what constitutes social relationships, using... (More)
The present thesis is a qualitative exploration of a group of patients’ experiences of going through an ayahuasca treatment as well as the human-entity relations they come to be constitutive of during the treatment. The ingestion of ayahuasca allows the drinker to enter a non-ordinary reality which opens up the possibility of having encounters with demons, spirits, angels, saints, animals and God, as perceived by informants. The findings presented here are based on seven weeks of fieldwork at Takiwasi, a drug rehabilitation centre in Tarapoto, Peru, and entailed ethnographic interviewing and participant observation of patients currently at the centre. By widening the notion of ‘the social’, of what constitutes social relationships, using Hallowell’s concept of a behavioural environment as an environment inhabited by entities of different classes - affecting actual behaviour - the agency and characteristics of entities are delineated. The conditions under which these entities come to be as agents are connected to certain cultural variables of the centre: the religious-spiritual milieu on the physical premises in Catholic iconography and edifices, activities such as Christian prayer, mass and use of items during ceremony, and the amalgamation of the Amazonian spirit-world and the Catholic belief-system in Takiwasi philosophy. The latter allows for both spirits of different orders and Christian personages – Jesus, Mary, and other saints - to be at play and present simultaneously, in ceremony and outside of it. It is concluded that the entities encountered have a crucial importance for the lives of informants and are felt as just as real – though different in form and substance – as any relationship. (Less)
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author
Stuveback, Christoffer LU
supervisor
organization
course
SANM03 20142
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
anthropology of religion, Ayahuasca, Peru, Amazon, demons, human-spirit relations, religious syncretism
language
English
id
5153714
date added to LUP
2015-04-07 08:40:43
date last changed
2015-04-07 08:40:43
@misc{5153714,
  abstract     = {The present thesis is a qualitative exploration of a group of patients’ experiences of going through an ayahuasca treatment as well as the human-entity relations they come to be constitutive of during the treatment. The ingestion of ayahuasca allows the drinker to enter a non-ordinary reality which opens up the possibility of having encounters with demons, spirits, angels, saints, animals and God, as perceived by informants. The findings presented here are based on seven weeks of fieldwork at Takiwasi, a drug rehabilitation centre in Tarapoto, Peru, and entailed ethnographic interviewing and participant observation of patients currently at the centre. By widening the notion of ‘the social’, of what constitutes social relationships, using Hallowell’s concept of a behavioural environment as an environment inhabited by entities of different classes - affecting actual behaviour - the agency and characteristics of entities are delineated. The conditions under which these entities come to be as agents are connected to certain cultural variables of the centre: the religious-spiritual milieu on the physical premises in Catholic iconography and edifices, activities such as Christian prayer, mass and use of items during ceremony, and the amalgamation of the Amazonian spirit-world and the Catholic belief-system in Takiwasi philosophy. The latter allows for both spirits of different orders and Christian personages – Jesus, Mary, and other saints - to be at play and present simultaneously, in ceremony and outside of it. It is concluded that the entities encountered have a crucial importance for the lives of informants and are felt as just as real – though different in form and substance – as any relationship.},
  author       = {Stuveback, Christoffer},
  keyword      = {anthropology of religion,Ayahuasca,Peru,Amazon,demons,human-spirit relations,religious syncretism},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {From Demonic Agency to Divine Presence: A Study of Human-Entity Relations at an Ayahuasca Treatment Centre},
  year         = {2015},
}