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Emilia Sanabria, winner of the first ERC SHS of the School

Starting grant "Healing Encounters"

Published on : October 5, 2017
Emilia Sanabria.jpg
"Healing Encounters" is the first SHS research project of ENS de Lyon to have won an ERC Starting grant. The leader of the project is Emilia Sanabria, MCF in anthropology at the ENS de Lyon and assistant director of the Laboratory of Anthropology specialized in Contemporary Issues (LADEC).
"Healing Encounters" is part of a pragmatic approach to the analysis of health care: to be healed, to feel healed, what does that mean? To answer this question, this anthropological project will be interested in what healing means from the point of view of those who practice, receive or evaluate healing. Emilia Sanabria wants to release binary models that oppose biomedical and indigenous practices. Her ERC project aims to study the contemporary reconfiguration of healing. What conceptions of well-being, disease and body underlie the various healing practices? How is therapeutic efficacy measured in a field of concurrent assessment practices?

"I'm an anthropologist." My project is to study the ontological "encounter" using the case of an Amazonian beverage known as Ayahuasca or Yahé. This beverage is experiencing a striking expansion with prolific reinventions of healing practices. The unprecedented globalization of this indigenous medicine offers a unique opportunity to study the "Encounters" in which healing is carried out in an ethnographic way. The project is ethnographically-ingrained: It is interested in the production of new forms of healing in urban contexts (Brazil, Holland), in Laboratories (emblematically "global" spaces) and in Amazonia (Colombia). All these practices, of course, are intermingled in long colonial and neocolonial history.
The comparative analysis will be structured around three objectives:
  1. Mapping the interlacing of biological and symbolic effects within healing practices
  2. Studying the forms of healing activated by Non-human beings and other companion species that form the social fabric in which humans are closely interconnected
  3. Developing an anthropological theory that acknowledges a plurality of realities without having to postulate diverse worlds
Born in France, Emilia Sanabria grew up in Canada, Latin America and England where she studied. She specializes in Brazil where she has been conducting field investigations since 2003. She speaks 4 languages: French, English, Spanish and Portuguese. Learn more about the research work of Emilia Sanabria.

City, Lab, Forest
This project will be carried out in the form of ethnographic observations, in-depth interviews, scientific research amongst circles of experts and collaborative workshops:
  • Healing in the City will examine the production of new neo-traditional forms of healing in urban contexts (in Brazil and Holland).
  • 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 the indigenous community in the Colombian Amazon.
Editor’s note: In 2017, 9 SHS projects benefited from an ERC in France, out of a total of 53.
Source:  ERC Starting grants 2017

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