[Translation by Mathew Meyer of the book Religiões ayahuasqueiras: um balanço bibliográfico]
In the last two decades, there has been a great expansion of the ayahuasca religions, a category that refers to religious movements originating in the Brazilian Amazon and that share the ritualized use of ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is an hallucinogenic brew which contains the powerful psychedelic drug DMT. These religions are Santo Daime, União do Vegetal (UDV) and Barquinha. The national and international expansion of these religious movements and the growing number of groups that use ayahuasca in urban centers around the world has been accompanied by a simultaneous expansion of publications regarding these religions.
The present work was born out of a need to systematize the myriad publications about this topic. In this book, we have established a virtual dialog among diverse researchers and areas of research related to the subject of the ayahuasca religions, and to create a vision of what we believe to be a singular area of research. Thus, this publication intends to offer a map of the world literature and this theme, to become a guide for the researchers in the area, and also to be useful for all those who are interested in the topic.
The book is divided into three parts. The first consists of a thorough overview of the history of the Brazilian Ayahuasca Religions. It also presents a critique of the main publications dedicated to these religions, calling attention to the characteristics, tendencies and central perspectives in this research area. In the second part, we discuss the most significant scientific (pharmacological, psychiatric and psychological) investigations that already have been published about these movements. We try here to present, with a critical eye, the results, contributions and limitations of these investigations. Finally, we offer the most exhaustive bibliography to date of the topic of the Brazilian Ayahuasca Religions, including texts written in ten languages: Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese and Spanish. This list recognizes not only academic publications, but also the texts of the Ayahuasca Religions themselves.
Brazil is not only the country from which originated the Ayahuasca Religions, but it is also where studies and publications about these religious movements and their subsequent developments began. As a result, most of the publications about the topic are in Portuguese. In other words, Brazilian researchers have been the pioneers and leaders in shaping the field. At the same time, the bibliographical survey we undertook points to a major gap in the texts in English about the Ayahuasca Religions, especially in the area of anthropology, where few if any authoritative books have been published. Related to this is that almost all the English literature fails to recognize the corresponding Portuguese-language literature. Therefore, we consider that the translation of this book and its publication in English is of fundamental importance, helping to remedy this gap in the English literature. It also will allow widely-dispersed international researchers studying the ayahuasca religions to become cognizant of the Portuguese literature.
Ayahuasca Religions: A Comprehensive Bibliography and Critical Essays is an indispensable reference for understanding the expansion of these religious movements throughout the world and the resulting boom in the studies about them.