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PhD student

Following on from her work in heath and social care Kerry became interested in Amazonian shamanism, especially ayahuasca use, upon hearing about its potential as a treatment for depression and substance misuse. She began her PhD on this topic, with the University of Cumbria, in October 2011 and is currently in the final stages of completing her thesis.

Kerry’s knowledge of psychedelics spans over 20 years of experience as a psychedelic user, including three years training as an ayahuascquero. In March 2015 she established The Psychedelic Society of Birmingham. The society hosts monthly talks, organises short expeditions, and campaigns against the war on drugs.

She currently works with Birmingham City University where she overseas the operations of a faculty based Doctoral Research College.


In 2013 Kerry delivered a snap shop of her PhD research to the Breaking Convention. This talk will expand on this by offering an overview of the entire PhD project and preliminary findings.

The focus of this talk is to demonstrate the value of using qualitative research methods in investigating this nascent ‘sub-culture’. You will see how she employed a variety of ethnographic techniques to develop a comprehensive understanding of why British people are adopting Amazonian shamanic rituals and treatments, and what this involves. Her research provides details about the religious/spiritual beliefs of her participants for comparison to Native Amazonian shamanism; it considers the impact on social and familiar relationships; it asks about any perceived benefits and pitfalls of involvement as well as considering participants relationship to British states such as the NHS and government.

With this talk you will be able to see why in this instance qualitative methods provide a greater understanding of this phenomenon that would not have been achievable by using quantitative methods which are so prevalent in this field of research.