Society for Cultural Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
The colonizing propensities historically associated with the discipline of anthropology have begun to erode as anthropologists increasingly begin to champion critical approaches to expose hegemonic discourses on culture, race, gender, and epistemology. Notwithstanding the fact that each critical strategy has its distinct aim, a fundamental theme that they share is challenging the reified nature of our conceptual heritage. Since anthropologists have historically been situated at the forefront of cultural alterity, they have subsequently brought awareness to the diversity of states of consciousness different human societies avail themselves to. In doing so, anthropologists have put forth compelling evidence that our conceptual cultural heritage can temporarily be suspended—in other words, our reified grasps can effectively be loosened—by way of altering one’s state of consciousness through experiences provoked by the plants, fungi, and substances referred to as psychedelics. Despite the variety of states of consciousness that anthropologists have brought attention to, however, all states of consciousness which fall outside of the Euro-American conceptual construction of ‘normal waking consciousness’ have been subordinated, marginalized, and even demonized through disciplinary and discursive exclusionary measures. Nonetheless, as scientific research on psychedelic states of consciousness continues to complement longstanding anthropological literature, further evidence is amassing in favor of viewing psychedelics as deconditioning agents. Since the decolonization of anthropology entails an unraveling of our conceptual heritage as well as a regeneration of our notions of alterity, anthropology must also be at the vanguard of the decolonization of consciousness so that new forms of acquiring knowledge and interrelating can emerge.