An indigenous Shuar community in Ecuador have been hosting tourists seeking retreats that feature traditional medicinal plants such as ayahuasca and tobacco. The community has provided individual ceremonies with the plants, or more complex rites such as Natemamu. Natemamu is a rite that is comprised of repetitive ceremonies lasting ten to twelve days, which involves drinking large quantities of Ayahuasca.
The author primarily focuses on: 1) the commodification of the Shuar Natemamu rite as a product that is offered on the global market; and 2) the impacts of this commercial trade on the hosts and visitors. This article is based on data collected by means of participant observation, interviews, and audio-visual documentations.
The findings imply that the introduction of western tourists to the Shuar community and its rites has contributed to processual changes to the rite and to ideational and material changes on both sides. Furthermore, the findings suggest that while the tourists experienced more ideational changes, the impact on Shuars was more material. This seems to be in accordance with the respective expectations of the encounter of both groups.
Ayahuasca, rite, commodification, tradition, ethno-tourism, exchange
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