Piera has worked on ayahuasca since her Master Degree in Cultural Anthropology at the University Cà Foscari of Venice, Italy. Her master thesis focused on the Santo Daime religion and the relational aspects of the ritual use of ayahuasca in the ecovillage São José in Florianópolis, Brazil, where she did her ethnographic research in partnership with the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC). Her bachelor thesis introduced her to medical anthropology and ethnopsychiatry with a focus on efficacy in holistic practices.
She trained in transpersonal psychology, with specialization on the integration between anthropological research and healing. Her research interests have been ayahuasca, Santo Daime religion, relationality, personal healing and social change, with a dedicated racking of her brains about the researcher’s positioning. Since joining the Chemical Youth program, she has been working on ayahuasca’s efficacy in treating addictions and ayahuasca’s reformulation.
Piera is conducting a focused ethnography for the Chemical Youth project analysing the cases of recovery from addictions using Ayahuasca in the Santo Daime religion in Italy. Her Grand Tour in Italy brought her to meet Santo Daime centers and the religious leaders, doctors and professionals at the public health services for addiction (SerT) and the people, with their trajectories from heroin, cocaine, alcohol, psychopharmaceuticals and methadone addictions and treatments, to their healing pathways founded on the ritual use of Santo Daime (ayahuasca). Through semi-structured, in-depth interviewing and participant observation Piera is collecting the lived experiences of the pharmacological, psychological and spiritual effects of ayahuasca on addiction, and the ones relating the social and religious contexts, where these healing processes are realised. The study is laying the groundwork for a PhD research project, which central aim is to further our understanding of ayahuasca’s efficacy in treating substance addiction in different religious, healing and therapeutic contexts, and our understanding of the expansion and reformulation of ayahuasca from the Amazon to new contexts.