The Second World Ayahuasca Conference will be held in Rio Branco, the Brazilian Amazon, this October. The conference features presentations from researchers and practitioners on a broad spectrum of topics, from therapeutic uses of ayahuasca to shamanic knowledge and cultural hybridism, and will also have a film festival and a series of cultural events.
Bia Labate, anthropologist and member of the conference’s scientific committee, writes on Huffington Post:
The conference combines a main track, a parallel track consisting of researchers who answered the “call for abstracts”, a film festival, and a series of cultural events. The main track will have representatives of the Brazilian ayahuasca religions, about 100 indigenous individuals, and 11 round tables. These include: Amazonian shamanism, culture and cultural heritage, scientific research, contemporary uses, clinical interventions, challenges of globalization, politics and laws, environment and sustainability, plants from the Amazon, gender issues, and risks.
In the first edition of the conference in Ibiza in 2014, one hundred presentation proposals were submitted. Now, two years later, this number has doubled. Ayahuasca science seems to be spreading around the world as vigorously and dynamically as the brew itself. A number of professionals are increasingly inspired to study this intriguing substance through the lenses of different disciplines.
From the 200 proposals received, 120 were for the academic track, and 80 for the community track, which consists of practitioners with empirical knowledge. The abstracts come from an impressive 28 countries! Half of the proposals are from the area of social sciences, and the other half from the biomedical, psychology and public health fields combined. Although there is still a predominance of male researchers and practitioners, an increasing number of women are presenting on these issues.
The topics are as varied as: ayahuasca for homeless people, treatment for problematic drug and alcohol users, use by war veterans and prisoners, for coping with death and in giving birth, and ayahuasca’s role in mental health disorders and in enhancing psychological well-being. They also address ritual practice, shamanic knowledge, inter-ethnic relationships, cultural hybridism, religious transnationalization, the politics of healing, and commodification. Further, the relationship with alternative therapies and New Age spirituality will be contemplated. Some presentations also focus on the topics of legality, health risks and sexual abuse. Finally, arts and music, alongside ecology and conservation, are on the menu.
The conference has revealed an “outstanding emergence” of new research groups throughout Brazil, where over half of the proposals came from.