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Conference Announcement: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Plants and Religion

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

The Working Group on Plants and Religion at the University of Florida (UF) is hosting a symposium entitled “Multidisciplinary Approaches to Plants and Religion,” to be held 15-17 December 2011.  The symposium will explore human-plant relationships in the realm of the sacred.  Of special interest this year is the religious use of psychoactive plants, but there will be several sessions to encourage and welcome participants from a broad range of perspectives on the religious use of plants.

◊◊ Keynote Speakers ◊◊

Bia Labate


Bia Labate: Beatriz Caiuby Labate has a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil. Her main areas of interest are the study of psychoactive substances, drug policies, shamanism, ritual, and religion. Since 2009, she has been a Research Associate at the Institute of Medical Psychology, Heidelberg University. She is also researcher with the Nucleus for Interdisciplinary Studies of Psychoactives (NEIP), and editor of its website. She is author, co-author, and co-editor of eight books, two in English translation, and one journal special edition. Her book, A Reinvenção do Uso da Ayahuasca nos Centros Urbanos (The Reinvention of Ayahuasca Use in Urban Centers, Mercado de Letras, 2004), was derived from  her Master’s thesis, which received the prize for Best Thesis in Social Sciences from the National Association for Graduate Studies in Social Science (ANPOCS) in 2000. For more information, see her website.

Edward MacRae


Edward MacRae was born in Sao Paulo and raised in Great Britain, where he graduated in Social Psychology from the University of Sussex and received a master’s degree in Sociology of Latin America from the University of Essex. Back in Brazil, he studied anthropology at Unicamp and USP, completing his doctorate in 1986 with the dissertation “The militant homosexual in post-dictatorship Brazil.” Since then he has researched a range of drugs topics, initially at the Institute of Social Medicine and Criminology of the state of Sao Paulo–IMESC— and in the Program for Orientation and Attendance of Drug-dependencies– PROAD/EPM. A former member of the Sao Paulo State Narcotics Council, he currently teaches anthropology at the Federal University of Bahia, and works with the Center for Drug Abuse Studies and Therapy – CETAD/UFBA.  He is a representative of the Ministry of Culture on the National Anti-Drugs Council and a member of its Scientific-Technical Advisory Chamber. He has written books on sexuality, social movements, and the socially integrated use of psychoactive substances and harm reduction associated to the use of drugs.

◊◊ Outline of Sessions ◊◊







Guests and Participants Bron Taylor – Department of Religion, University of Florida Todd Swanson – Department of Religion, Arizona State University Benjamin Hebblethwaite – Department of Anthropology, University of Florida Andrew Tarter – Graduate Student; Department of Anthropology, University of Florida Kerri Blumenthal – Graduate Student, Department of Religion, University of Florida Clint Bland – Graduate Student, Department of Religion, University of Florida

Coordinators Robin Wright – Member of the faculty, Department of Religion, University of Florida James (Pete) Taylor – Graduate Student; Latin American Studies, University of Florida Lucas de Biaji Moreira – Graduate Student, Department of Religion, University of Florida Jaya Reddy – Graduate Student, Department of Religion, University of Florida Marissa Molinar Anders – Comparative Art and Archeology, University of Florida

 ◊◊ Time, Place, and Purpose ◊◊

The symposium is to begin on December 15th and run through the 17th.  On the 15th and 16th the symposium will begin at 10am and run through 6:45pm, with breaks for coffee and lunch between each session.  The 17th is expected only to last from 10am to 1pm, including closing remarks.  The symposium will be held on the University of Florida campus, in space made available by the Department of Religion.

The event will be relatively small and informal, consisting of sessions on specific topics, as well as a planning session to guide the future efforts of the Working Group on Plants and Religion. The Working Group aims to create a space at UF for the study of the religious use of plants; to allow for interdisciplinary work across the university; and to serve as a center for resources for and collaboration with other scholars engaged in these endeavors at other institutions nationally and internationally.  We invite you to come, participate, and help us plan for the future.  This symposium will help us identify areas in need of further research, and topics/areas that seem most pressing for future work in the study of the religious use of plants. We want to foster dialogue across disciplines and institutions, as well as to draw incoming and prospective students into the religious use of plants and psychoactive plants.

◊◊ Support and Contributions ◊◊ Department of Religion ◊ College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Center for Latin American Studies ◊ Bron Taylor Department of Anthropology

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