“Healing Encounters” is the first research project to have won an ERC in the social sciences at ENS de Lyon. The PI is Emilia Sanabria, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at ENS de Lyon and member of the LADEC (Laboratoire d’anthropologie des enjeux contemporains).
“Healing Encounters” adopts a pragmatic approach to practices of healing: What multiple understandings of wellness, illness, bodies and pathology underpin healing efforts? How do these relate? How are healing practices valued in a context of multiple competing arenas for the realisation of values? To answer these questions, this project will examine what healing means from the point of view of those who practice, receive or evaluate healing. Emilia Sanabria wants to overcome binary models that oppose biomedical and indigenous practices.
“I'm an anthropologist. My project is to study what I am calling ontological encounters through the case of an Amazonian beverage known as Ayahuasca or Yahé. This beverage is experiencing a striking expansion and prolific reinvention within a wide array of healing practices. The unprecedented globalization of this indigenous medicine offers a unique opportunity to study encounters ethnographically. The project is ethnographically-grounded: it will study the production of new ritual forms of healing in urban contexts, in laboratory settings and in Amazonia. All these practices are, of course, entangled in long colonial and neocolonial histories. This requires that we move past situating them on a tradition-modernity continuum.”
The comparative analysis will be structured around three core objectives:
Mapping the enmeshment of biological and symbolic effects within healing practices
Studying the forms of healing activated by nonhuman beings and other companion species that form the social fabric in which humans are embedded
Developing an anthropological theory that acknowledges a plurality of realities without having to postulate multiple worlds
Born in France, Emilia Sanabria grew up in Canada, Latin America and England where she received her PhD. She has regional expertise in Brazil where she has been conducting fieldwork since 2003. She speaks 4 languages: French, English, Spanish and Portuguese.
The Program's 3 sites: City, Lab and Forest
This ethnographic project will include participant observation, in-depth interviews, ethnographic research in expert settings and collaborative workshops:
Healing in the City will examine the production of neo-traditional forms of healing in urban contexts
Healing in the Laboratory will analyze how ayahuasca has been reinvented as a tool in psychiatry to deal with mental health problems, such as addiction or depression.
Healing in the Forest will study the impact of globalization on ayahuasca for indigenous communities in the Amazon region.
Editor’s note: In 2017, 9 SHS projects benefited from an ERC in France, out of a total of 53.