Vision and Mission Statement


The Association for the Anthropology of Consciousness (AAC) is an anthropologically-focused, interdisciplinary academic organization dedicated to the study of consciousness phenomena in cultures around the world. A section of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), AAC members utilize cross-cultural, experimental, experiential, and theoretical approaches to study consciousness as a fundamental component of the universe.

Our community of practice is unique in that many members are also practitioners, resulting in a deep pool of tacit, pragmatic wisdom to share.

AAC publishes a peer-reviewed academic journal, Anthropology of Consciousness, holds an annual Spring Meeting, and sponsors sessions at other meetings, such as those of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). Through these endeavors, AC hopes to further meaningful, scholarly exchanges between anthropologists and persons in other disciplines within consciousness studies.

Mission Statement

The Association for the Anthropology of Consciousness (AAC) is dedicated to the study of consciousness, its archaic roots, and its practical application to contemporary issues. To realize this vision, AAC’s mission is to:

Publish the peer-reviewed journal Anthropology of Consciousness; convene an Annual Spring Conference that consists of individual papers, panel discussions, and experiential sessions; and host sessions at the Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association.

Explore interdisciplinary perspectives, respect diverse traditions, and prioritize inclusiveness and open dialogue in the study of consciousness.

Reflect on how consciousness and human transformation can be made relevant to the challenges of our age, with the aim of a praxis to catalyze a shift toward a more just world.

Support rigorous and empirically-based inquiries into consciousness that utilize diverse methodologies – including ethnographic, scientific, experiential, historical, and alternative ways of knowing.

Organizational Values

AAC is an interdisciplinary organization dedicated to studying consciousness and the human condition.

We value ethnographic, experimental, experiential, expressive, and discursive ways of understanding consciousness. We aim to provide a welcoming space for persons who question orthodoxies. Ultimately, we seek to study consciousness across culture and time to better address major issues in the world, in academia and beyond.

AAC seeks to be a home for Indigenous knowledge and direct anthropological practice. Many of our members have direct and deep experience in cultures that emphasize the importance of consciousness. Consequently, AAC members often have a desire and ability to apply knowledge gained from ethnography to meditation, psychotherapy, community organizing, bodywork, medicine, law, advocacy, writing, publication, and other practices.

AAC is also a community that encourages alternative points of view. We are a home for people who have extraordinary experiences and seek a context to share and study them. AAC has a tradition of maintaining a firm grounding in the data-driven anthropological research on cultural approaches to consciousness, while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of academia by integrating multiple disciplines, ontological approaches, and forms of numinous experience. We support rigorous and empirically based inquiries into consciousness and engage ethnographic, scientific, experiential, historical, artistic and “alternative” ways of knowing.

As a section of the American Anthropological Association, we seek to add to anthropological literature and scholarship by participating in the annual AAA conference, publishing the Anthropology of Consciousness journal, and hosting a yearly Spring AAC conference.

Some Research Areas and Interests

States of Consciousness and Consciousness Studies: Dreams, possession, trance, dissociation, cognitive theory, epistemology, methodology, evolution of consciousness, psychotherapy, depth psychology, cultural psychology.

Shamanic, Religious, and Spiritual Traditions: Eastern, Western, and indigenous religions; shamanism; healing practices; ritual; music and dance; cultural and religious preservation and activism.

Philosophical, Symbolic, and Linguistic Studies: Myth, oral traditions, language, archetypes, body and mind, comparative studies, visual anthropology.

Psychoactive Experiences: Studies of psychoactive plant use in traditional and contemporary practices, ethnopharmacology, psychopharmacology, healing, addiction and recovery.

Anomalous Experience: Psychic phenomenon, reincarnation, near-death experiences, mediumistic communication, divination.