Indian Spirit: Amerindians and the Techno-Tribes of Psytrance

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Psychedelic trance (or psytrance) culture is an electronic dance movement that has proliferated in the global present. The largely European-derived participants within this transnational cultural movement typically identify themselves and their events as “tribal.” Among a wide and changing palette of sources of authenticity, transcendence and self-recreation for psytrance enthusiasts, Amerindians,1 or at least their image, have been integral to this imaginary. Within these techno-tribes, new digital and cybernetic media are harnessed to sample the symbolic and material cultures of the indigenous Other. From ubiquitous tipis and dream catchers, to Indian prophecies, powwows, and translations of the Mayan Calendar, the raiment, iconography, music, lore, and psychotropic plants of native cultures of the Americas have been adopted, synthesized, repurposed, and ingested to various ends within psytrance music and culture. The chapter specifically explores (1) the role of Amerindian music, prayer, chants, and iconography in trance music production and performance, and; (2) the adoption and impact of a pharmacopeia of entheogenic plants used in South and Central American shamanic contexts within psytrance culture. Discussing various ways Amerindian practices, artifacts, and symbols have been imagined and appropriated within an intentionally “neotribal” culture, this chapter offers insights on a countercultural dance movement that has traditionally sought its alternative becomings, its marginal sociality and its “truths” sampling the exotic, the primitive, the exiled, the alien, the Other. In the process, it circumscribes an artistic countertribalism where practices of appropriation cannot be simply derogated as theft but must be considered in the light of the methods of digital re/production, aesthetic syncretism, and conscientious use.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTribal Fantasies
Subtitle of host publicationNative Americans in the European Imaginary, 1900–2010
EditorsJames Mackay, David Stirrup
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan US
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781137318817
ISBN (Print)9781137288813, 9781349449972
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameStudies in European Culture and History
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Print)2945-6274
ISSN (Electronic)2945-6282


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