The UF Working Group on Plants and Religion was established to fill a gap in the current academic discourse, a systematic and holistic study of the ways in which cultures uses plants for sacred purposes. The inaugural conference of the working group will bring experts from various disciplines to discuss new questions and methodologies in the interplay of plants and religion.
For more information about this event and the Plants and Religion Working Group, visit plants-and-religion.org.
For a poster of this event, please click here.
The inaugural conference will consist of six sessions:
This session will cover shamanism and the ritual uses of plants for healing, focusing on indigenous religious systems. Plants discussed will include Parika (Virola spp), Ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis Caapi), Chacruna (Psychotria Viridis), Tobacco (Nicotiana spp), and others. Traditions ranging from Amazonian healing systems to Traditional Chinese and Indian (Asian) Medicine will be considered.
Movement & Destinations: Trajectories of Plants and Religion
This session will look at the ritual uses of plants and movement, especially in terms of pilgrimage, tourism, and the cultural migration, appropriation, and transformation of symbols. Ayahuasca tourism, the Huichol Peyote Hunt, and New Age uses of these plants will feature prominently in this session.
Plants, Cosmology, and Art
This sessions begins with a discussion of Biophilia as a vehicle to understanding the long-term relationship of humans and flora. Plants will be discussed in terms of their cosmological positions as “world trees,” forms of axis mundi, and sources of food and knowledge. In addition, this session will look at petroglyphs and other forms of shamanic art as they have been informed by the ritual use of plants.
Environmentalism and Ethnobotany
This session will attempt to bridge the gap between indigenous and mainstream discourses on plants especially in terms of ethnobotany and to discuss the role of plants in environmentalism, religion and nature.
Religious Nature of Plants: Plants in Agriculture, Medicine and Astrology
This session will address the religious nature of plants in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Further, it will also include presentations on religion and ariculture in India and plants as a link to explore the interactions of systems of knowledge (religion, medicine and astrology) in India.
Political and Legal Intersections of Plants and Religion
This session will look at questions of legality, policy and procedure surrounding the ritual use of plants. Cannabis, ayahuasca, peyote, coca, and many other plants face strict prohibitionist agendas and rhetorical strategies, much of which is placed unquestioningly in terms of addiction and harm prevention. This session will aim to treat the subject beyond these common patterns of discourse.
For more information, contact Robin Wright
Center for the Humanities
and the Public Sphere
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
200 Walker Hall
P.O. Box 118030
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611