Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

History

First Advisor

Robert Ferry

Second Advisor

Darna DuFour

Third Advisor

Fred Anderson

Abstract

This thesis illuminates the lost history of ayahuasca and argues that a larger institution, the ethnocentric and economically focused European milieu, prevented eighteenth and nineteenth-century Europeans from further investigating this mysterious plant-based hallucinogenic infusion. A myriad of factors contributed to these triumphal trade winds of prevailing European thought—ethnocentricity, consequent internalization, economic avarice, and European geo-political domination. In addition, there were other fateful historical circumstances beyond the influence of European paradigms that may have prevented ayahuasca from entering mainstream history.

This thesis begins an understanding toward the reasons that led to a century of historical cover-up—the skeleton of what occurred is laid out, with hopes of the flesh to be filled in later. Significantly, this story brings light to the limits of western intellectual paradigms, for although the impetus to further understand this vine of souls was in the fingertips of talented intellectuals, the prevailing European milieu impeded further intellectual investigation.