Bia Labate, PhD

Bia Labate, PhD

Indigenous Peoples & the Urban Ayahuasca Circuit in Brazil.

Beatriz Caiuby Labate has a PhD in Social Anthropology from the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil. Her main areas of interest are the study of psychoactive substances, drug policy, shamanism, ritual, and religion.

She is Visiting Professor at the Center for Research and Post Graduate Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS), in Guadalajara, and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Drug Policy Program of the Center for Economic Research and Education (CIDE), in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

She is also co-founder of the Nucleus for Interdisciplinary Studies of Psychoactives (NEIP), and editor of NEIP’s website. She is author, co-author, and co-editor of twelve books, one special-edition journal, and several peer-reviewed articles. For more information, see



Presentation Abstract:

Reflections on the Entrance of Indigenous Peoples into
the Urban Circuit of Ayahuasca Consumption in Brazil

This presentation makes a critical reflection on the entrance of Brazilian Indians into the contemporary urban circuit of ayahuasca consumption. I describe processes of contact by different indigenous populations such as Kaxinawa, Guarani, Apurinã, Kuntanawa, and Yawanawa with Brazilian ayahuasca religions and neo-ayahuasca practitioners. I note the insistence by some of these groups that their own ancestors were responsible for teaching Raimundo Irineu Serra, the legendary founder of the Santo Daime religion, about ayahuasca. I examine how such discussions have entered into the arena of public debate, and try to understand indigenous peoples’ demands to participate in the legal process of recognizing ayahuasca as immaterial cultural heritage by Brazil’s National Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage (IPHAN). I analyze how the entrance of indigenous people into the urban ayahuasca circuit, and the participation of non-Indians in ayahuasca ceremonies in villages in the Amazon, is reconfiguring the religious domain of Brazilian ayahuasca religions.