Cover of Global Ayahuasca by Alex K. Gearin
Global Ayahuasca
Wondrous Visions and Modern Worlds
Alex K. Gearin


August 2024
296 pages.
from $30.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503636576
Paperback ISBN: 9781503639836
Ebook ISBN: 9781503639843

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Ceremonies of drinking the psychoactive brew ayahuasca have flourished across the planet in recent decades. Emerging from Indigenous roots in the Amazon rainforest, the brew is now envisaged by many as the spiritual gateway to archaic and primordial worlds, with reports of healing, spiritual insight, and awe-inspiring visions placing ayahuasca among the burgeoning field of psychedelic medicines. Astonished and allured by descriptions of ayahuasca experiences, researchers in psychology, anthropology, and philosophy have attempted to define the shared properties of the visions. In this book, Alex Gearin challenges this simplified obsession with universal truth and explores the embodied practices of contemporary ayahuasca drinkers to reveal how the brew has conjured contradictory experiences across the globe. These range from urban disenchantment and capitalist mastery to competitive sorcery and ecological harmony, wherein the plant-induced visions embody different attitudes towards capitalist modernity.

Based upon ethnographic research among Shipibo healers in remote Peru, alternative medicine groups in urban Australia, and entrepreneurs and corporate managers in mainland China, Global Ayahuasca examines how the wondrous visions of ayahuasca are entangled within the social and economic realities that they illuminate, revealing different tensions, fears, and hopes of everyday modern life.

About the author

Alex K. Gearin is Assistant Professor at the Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit, The University of Hong Kong. He is the co-editor of The World Ayahuasca Diaspora: Controversies and Reinventions.

"In this fascinating ethnographic study that follows ayahuasca into unexpected spaces, Alex Gearin takes readers on an engaging voyage from Indigenous Amazonia to corporate China. He is an expert guide through the surprising philosophical machinations of this new chapter in ayahuasca's globalizing story."

—Erika Dyck, author of Psychedelics: A Visual Odyssey

"In the psychedelic renaissance, Gearin's superb ethnography Global Ayahuasca makes a powerful counterpoint to the scientific pursuit of universal knowledge of mind-altering drugs and the mystical quest for unitive experiences. Gearin challenges the ubiquitous interpretation of visions in terms of trauma by attending to Indigenous futurism. The book reveals the rich tapestry of human experience shaped by this wondrous tea."

—Nicolas Langlitz, author of Neuropsychedelia: The Revival of Hallucinogen Research since the Decade of the Brain