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SPEAKERS

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JERÓNIMO M. M.
Documentary Filmmaker & Researcher

Jerónimo Mazarrasa is a documentary filmmaker, independent researcher, and interaction designer with extensive knowledge of the world of Ayahuasca.  He has travelled extensively through South America, researching a broad range of Ayahuasca practices, and has lectured internationally on Ayahuasca tourism and the appropriation of indigenous knowledge.  He currently serves in the Executive Office of the ICEERS Foundation as well as the Steering Committee of the Ayahuasca Defence Fund.

ABSTRACT: “WE HAVE THE RIGHT NOT TO CHANGE THINGS”: AYAHUASCA TRADITIONS AND MODERNITY

The expansion of Ayahuasca beyond its amazonian cradle and its encounter with industrial Western culture has put Amazonian traditions under considerable pressure to change and adapt.  The result has been a steady stream of hybridisation processes that far from being new, are part of a long history of asymmetric relationships in the Amazon.

In the midst of this some people, let’s call them traditionalists, have complained, with some good reason, that these innovations come from a superficial understanding of the traditions and are disrespectful, dangerous, or downright racist.  Other people, let’s call them the innovators, have complained, again with some reason, that the traditions were unnecessarily restrictive, impractical in the modern world, shortsighted, and sometimes downright sexist.

What to do?  If cultures are dynamic and in constant flux and transformation, does this mean that other people’s spiritual practices can be borrowed, or modified and adapted to our own needs?  What are the limits for this?  How do we reconcile our need to access traditional knowledge with the rights and perspectives of the source communities?

In the search for a broader understanding of this matter we will examine some real-life dilemmas coming from both the indigenous as well as the religious ayahuasca traditions.  We’ll hear the many sides of the debate, ponder the implications, and try to cast a hopeful glance towards the future.