Christine Hauskeller

Dimensions of a decolonial ethics for psychedelic studies.

Psychedelic studies is an emerging multidisciplinary field including clinical, philosophical, bioethical, political and social science analyses with special regard to the large-scale medicalisation of mind- altering substances. For critical research on the psychedelic renaissance, critical awareness of colonial practices and decolonizing ethics is crucial. This talk aims to highlight three branches of culture in which colonialism left its mark. This talk will discuss three dimensions of such an ethic, from general to specific.

Dimension 1. Biocultural colonisation. This medicalisation process itself aims to carve out pathways to comply with the principles of scientific medicine and its ethics whilst adopting aspects of indigenous practices to improve clinical success rates. This entails acts of appropriation, extractivism and biopiracy. Knowledge and practices created in an indigenous cultural context are erased by detachment and transference into the context of clinical medical care. There is a non-reciprocal transference of knowledge.

Dimension 2. Clinical colonisation. Inherent in this process of a scientific medicalisation of psychedelics is a colonisation of the intimate experiences of consciousness by the medico- pharmaceutical complex – the medicalisation of psychedelic experiences alienates and commodifies psychedelic states of mind. This raises ethical questions regarding personal liberty in relation to psychedelics, complementing those raised in the debate over decriminalisation.

Dimension 3. Psychological/internal colonisation. For a decolonizing ethic, these questions appear in addition to the more conventional medical ethics issues that are raised by the growing hype around psychedelic psychotherapy as a miracle cure and the hope this awakens in suffering and vulnerable people. The growing “psychedelic tourism” sector is one expression of this hype. Analysing the sociological elements of internal colonialism will shed light on this issue. A decolonizing ethic will be varied and radically contextual, rethinking relations of power old and new, in order to do justice to these themes and to provide better philosophical frameworks for the design of public policies focused on decriminalisation, harm reduction and management of pleasures. Decolonial ethics within psychedelic studies can encourage critical thinking regarding the power relations embedded in the clinical and spiritual uses of psychedelic organisms at a large-scale medicalisation.

Prof. Christine Hauskeller is a philosopher at the University of Exeter with training in sociology and psychology. Her research interests include a range of topics in Moral Philosophy and Empirical Ethics, Feminist Philosophy and Decolonizing Approaches; Frankfurt School Critical Theory, Philosophy of Medicine and the Life Sciences (especially psychedelic psychotherapy, genetics and stem cell research), as well as Science and Technology Studies.