SPECIAL SECTION: The Future of a Discipline: Considering the Ontological/Methodological Future of the Anthropology of Consciousness, Part II

Towards an Ethnometaphysics of Consciousness: Suggested Adjustments in SAC's Quest to Reroute the Main(Stream)


  • Editor's note: This article is part two of a two-part series that explores the past, present, and future of the anthropology of consciousness as a discipline, and also how Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness might evolve to reflect these insights and methodological considerations. Our hope is that these articles initiate further dialogues about the future of our field and we encourage article submissions and letters to the editor that explore this topic.


In order for the valuable research published in the Anthropology of Consciousness (AoC) journal to have the impact it ought to have upon the anthropological mainstream, contributors must demonstrate that they appreciate the historical tradition of anthropology as an intellectual forebear. Although “ethnometaphysics” has been cited sporadically by anthropologists over the past half-century, it never really caught on as an interdisciplinary speciality like ethnobotany, ethnomusicology, and ethnomathematics. Pointing to the example of discord in the West between viewing psychoactive substances as either “hallucinogens” or “entheogens,” I reassert ethnometaphysics in an aim to revamp the overlooked coining of this sub-field by anthropologist A. Irving Hallowell. Such a position rebrands SAC's alternative outlook in a way that could be seen by mainstream colleagues as less radical, thus giving the Society a more realistic opportunity to provoke progressive changes in the mainstream of our discipline.