David Dupuis | PhD, post-doctoral researcher

Research Department of the Quai Branly Museum

My doctoral thesis in social anthropology (EHESS-Laboratoire d'Anthropologie Sociale, Paris), based on an 18-month ethnographic fieldwork in the Peruvian Upper Amazon, focused on the reconfiguration of the practices of Peruvian mestizo shamanism in the context of the emergence of shamanic tourism and the globalization of the hallucinogenic drink ayahuasca. Using a methodology inspired by pragmatic anthropology and symbolic interactionism, I explored the dynamics by which cultural knowledge, symbolic frameworks, as well as interactional and discursive contexts shape the hallucinogenic experience. Exploring the stakes of the hallucinogenic experience in the recomposition of identity and the constitution of social group dynamics, I evaluated its implications in socialization, religious transmission and therapeutic efficacy.

Since my doctorate, I have worked on the construction of a comparative anthropological analysis of the relationships that human societies have with so-called “psychedelic” substances. The ethnographic surveys carried out for this purpose are of two types: 1) The globalization of the use of hallucinogenic substances in Latin America in the context of the emergence of shamanic tourism; 2) The contemporary requalification of these substances and their properties in Western societies (laboratory and clinical studies on hallucinogenic substances, emergence of movements of psychiatric users such as the Hear the Voice Movement).

In collaboration with the Hearing the Voice program (Durham University), I have placed this work in an interdisciplinary dialogue involving history, religious studies, psychology and neuroscience. This collaboration was an opportunity to exercise a critical practice of interdisciplinarity by questioning, from an anthropological perspective, the growing place of neurocentrism in the approach to the human fact. 


Mental health anthropology, human-plant relationships, psychedelic studies, ethnography, mixed methods research, neuroanthropology, Peruvian Amazon, Europe