Whose Stories Are We Telling: Ethnobotanical Understandings in the Corporadelic Era


Storytelling has played a central role in the creation and transmission of ethnobotanical knowledge throughout time. Entheogenic plants have rich histories of social, cultural, and medicinal applications and have tended to feature prominently in the cosmologies, pharmacopeias, and epics of the cultures (and subcultures) that have used them. However, these stories are not static. As psychedelics go mainstream, pharmaceutical executives, financial speculators, and even psychedelic researchers are crafting ethnobotanical narratives to propagate the perspectives they wish to see in the world.

As these narratives compete for dominance in the “marketplace of ideas,” it's up to members of psychedelic communities to develop, maintain, and disseminate evidence-based ethnobotanical frameworks that enable us to “distinguish shit from shinola.” If our realities are constructed from the stories we tell, how significant are the stories we tell about plants that alter our realities? This talk will examine the implications of some historical and current ethnobotanical narratives in order to examine the broader sociocultural significance of some psychoactive plants and the stories we tell about them.


David Nickles is an underground researcher and harm reduction advocate who serves as an editor for Psymposia Media, co-host of the Plus Three podcast, and intermittent moderator of the DMT-Nexus community.

David has presented social critiques and commentary on psychedelic culture and radical politics, as well as novel phytochemical data, at venues around the world. His work focuses on the social and cultural implications of psychoactive substances, utilising critical theory and structural analysis to examine the intersections of drugs and society. He is a vocal opponent of psychedelic commodification and blows glass in an idealistic attempt to avoid monetising his psychedelic work.

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