Peyote: History, Traditions, Politics

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Peyote: History, Tradition, Politics, and Conversation
Co-Edited by Beatriz Caiuby Labate and Clancy Cavnar

From the Publisher:

This book explains the role that peyote—a hallucinogenic cactus—plays in the religious and spiritual fulfillment of certain peoples in the United States and Mexico, and examines pressing issues concerning the regulation and conservation of peyote as well as issues of indigenous and religious rights.

Why is mescaline—an internationally controlled substance derived from peyote—given exemptions for religious use by indigenous groups in Mexico, and by the pan-indigenous Native American Church in the United States and Canada? What are the intersections of peyote use, constitutional law, and religious freedom? And why are natural populations of peyote in decline—so much so that in Mexico, peyote is considered a species needing "special protection"? This fascinating book addresses these questions and many more. It also examines the delicate relationship between "the needs of the plant" as a species and "the needs of man" to consume the species for spiritual purposes.

The authors of this work integrate the history of peyote regulation in the United States and the special "trust responsibility" relationship between the American Indians and the government into their broad examination of peyote, a hallucinogenic cactus containing mescaline that grows naturally in Mexico and southern Texas. The book's chapters document how when it comes to peyote, multiple stakeholders' interests are in conflict—as is often the case with issues that involve ethnic identity, religion, constitutional interpretation, and conservation. The expansion of peyote traditions also serves as a foundation for examining issues of international human rights law and protections for religious freedom within the global milieu of cultural transnationalism.

About the Author:

Beatriz Caiuby Labate, PhD, is professor at the Center for Research and Post Graduate Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS), in Guadalajara, Mexico, and visiting professor at the Drug Policy Program of the Center for Economic Research and Education (CIDE), in Aguascalientes, Mexico. She is also cofounder of the Nucleus for Interdisciplinary Studies of Psychoactives (NEIP) and editor of NEIP's website ( She is author, coauthor, or coeditor of 12 books, several peer-reviewed articles, and one special-edition journal. Labate holds a doctorate in social anthropology from the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil. Her main areas of interest are the study of psychoactive substances, drug policy, shamanism, ritual, and religion.

Clancy Cavnar, PsyD, is a research associate of the Nucleus for Interdisciplinary Studies of Psychoactives (NEIP) and a clinical psychologist who works at a dual diagnosis residential drug treatment center in San Francisco, CA. She combines an eclectic array of interests and activities as clinical psychologist, artist, and researcher. Cavnar is author and coauthor of articles in Journal of Psychoactive Drugs and International Journal for Drug Policy, among others. She is coeditor, with Beatriz Caiuby Labate, of three books: The Therapeutic Use of Ayahuasca; Prohibition, Religious Freedom, and Human Rights: Regulating Traditional Drug Use; and Ayahuasca Shamanism in the Amazon and Beyond. Cavnar received her doctorate in clinical psychology from John F. Kennedy University.


Hardcover: 280 pages
Publisher: Praeger (January, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1440834004
Shipping Weight: 1 lb, 9 oz


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