Student NameJake Ference
Faculty Mentor NameRobin Wright
CollegeLiberal Arts and Sciences
Research InterestsReligion, Shamanism, and traditional medicine
Hobbies and InterestsFilm, cooking, and coin collecting

Research Project

Ethnography on the União do Vegetal

My project is an ethnographic study that examines the União do Vegetal, or UDV, in Gainesville, Florida. The project’s goal is researching the history of the UDV’s expansion into the United States, and examining traditions, rituals, and the symbols associated with the group’s faith. Specifically, the focus of this research project is the group’s utilization of Hoasca Tea, or Ayahausca. The consumption of Hoasca Tea, a hallucinogenic drink, is the most important sacrament of the group’s belief system. Since it is one of the most prevalent and important aspects of the faith, it will be one area of focus for this study. The project will take place over several months using participant observation methods in UDV religious meetings and ceremonies to gather information on the group’s practices and beliefs. Furthermore, interviews will be conducted to gain a better understanding of the members’ personal relationship with, views on the faith and what participants get out of their time spent as members of the UDV church.