The Annual Research Programme defines the main topics of debate that unfold in the Lancaster University hub of inter- and post-disciplinary, intra- and inter-institutional encounters, the Institute for Advanced Studies. This year's programme, 2009-2010, is called Experimentality and is billed in this way as "a unique, open-ended conversation about the power of experimentality", beginning with a launch on October 14-15:
"Experimentality is a year-long collaborative exploration of ideas and practices of experimentation in science and technology, the arts, commerce, politics, popular culture, everyday life, and the natural world.
Over the course of the academic year, the programme will run a range of workshops and arts events, culminating in an international conference, The Experimental Society, on 7-9 July 2010."
In this blog I will collect some anecdotes and ideas, stories and viewpoints, perhaps even some analysis and maybe a rant or two, hopefully food for thought, about the kind of experimentality that surrounds the practices of magic healing in the Amazon with the use of what the shamans call teacher or power plants. These are special, sacred plants that facilitate the access to intuitive knowledge about the world, particularly in the context of patients with problems - or for prophylactic purposes or to "simply" develop spiritually. It will mainly focus on the use of ayahuasca, which will be grounded in a politics of social movements and presented from the perspective of autonomous development, as opposed to the predominant Euro-American developmentalism perspective, which is centred upon ideas and politics of private property, industrialisation, teleological investments in high technology, as fixes.
Coming to terms with shamanic experimentality is a deeply political matter. The destruction of the forest in which the healer learns her skills from the wild of the plants threatens the sustainability of the healers' practices: their schools are burning and being demolished.
I will take some material from the Colonos - Amazonia por la Vida blog, which has a diverse collection of "stories (and rants), reflections, photos, analysis and maybe even some good ideas - often relevant for the Amazon or for life in general".
Looking forward to a year of experimentality and hopefully some magic! :)