Accepted Paper:

Grave danger and infernal paradise: pejorative power and the psychedelics  
Henry Cox (Cox Anthropology)

Paper short abstract:

Research into human uses of drugs with psychedelic properties, ( plant-derived and the tech- new 'synthetic') finds itself once again with renewed kinetic energy, as the Spectre of Death - the doomsday clock, is reset closer to midnight. But why bother now? Haven't we all been here before?

Paper long abstract:

Historically, anthropology has made significant contributions to human understanding of beneficial psychedelic drug use (e.g. Coult 1966; Harner 1968; Taussig 1987; Langlitz 2013), but a panoply of reasons exists for people to imagine that consuming psychedelic drugs for any reason is downright madness ("Price of Entry - Your Mind").

However, countering this, scientific research findings from numerous institutions, especially over the last ten years, provide a plethora of evidence that psychedelic chemicals constitute an invaluable resource for human beings.

Psychedelic drug use by humans can elicit a variety of experiences, characteristically powerful and profound; importantly, they are classed as non-addictive. Much of the ethnographic data to date characterises psychedelics as tools which are used for healing in shamanic practices which exploit the drugs' properties, with much of the current medical research data concurring with this finding, predicting the likelihood of some of them becoming prescription medicines in the relatively near future, but is "healing and medication" the only valid rubric for their consideration?

Pre-eminent in recent studies are those on psychedelic amelioration of fear of death and dying; it is worth considering what place these drugs might take in future regimes of palliative care and /or in situations where euthanasia is legal.

This paper considers the beneficial future role that renewed anthropological analyses and interest might play in psychedelic research

Panel P32
Death and paradise - no-one gets in alive: the anthropological re-imagining of psychedelic drug use