International Journal for the Study of New Religions, Vol 7, No 2 (2016)

Dividual Vision of the Individual: Ayahuasca Neo-shamanism in Australia and the New Age Individualism Orthodoxy

Alex Gearin
Issued Date: 20 Feb 2017

Abstract


There has been ongoing scholarly debate concerning whether New Age spirituality may be defined by individualistic more than collectivistic values, beliefs and behaviours. Most scholars have answered in the positive and indicated how New Age beliefs and techniques emphasise the importance of the self and self-interests of the practitioner. This article contributes to debates on New Age individualism with an analysis of ayahuasca neoshamanism in Australia. I introduce thick ethnographic evidence of collectivist logics of social action in ritual practices of ecstatic purging and visions. I argue that these practices can be interpreted through anthropological notion of "dividualism" whereby the person is multiple, partible, and exchangeable along social relations of obligation (Strathern 1988, Mosko 2013). The article illustrates how ethnographic theory may contribute to debates about individualism and collectivism in New Age spirituality by creating space for "native" or emic theories of social action.

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DOI: 10.1558/ijsnr.v7i2.31955

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