Research at Alianza Arkana: ‘Learning from the Peruvian Amazon’

We are delighted that our research report, ‘Learning from the Peruvian Amazon’, has just been published and is available as a free download from Roffey Park Institute, in the UK, who commissioned the research. This report was co-written by Dr Paul Roberts, Director of Intercultural Education at Alianza Arkana, and Laura Dev, PhD student at the University of Berkeley, California.

At the beginning of the executive summary, it says:

“This research report investigates how a group of highly accomplished indigenous Shipibo healers, based in the Peruvian Amazon, learned to become skilled healers. Although the Shipibo healers are from a very different cultural paradigm and context to Western organisational life, this report aims to bring the two worlds into conversation with one another. By investigating processes of learning and healing for these Shipibo healers, we attempt to shed light on the question: What can managers and developers in Western organisations learn from the Peruvian Amazon?

The research was carried out through in-depth interviews with thirteen healers. Of the thirteen, ten were interviewed in pairs, representing an older healer, often with more than fifty years of experience, and their next-generation apprentice. All the healers were recognized as leading practitioners both within their own communities and by the growing number of Westerners drawn to the Peruvian Amazon to work with them.¨

Rio Ucayali 1
Photo by Dr Paul Roberts from Research Report ‘Learning from the Peruvian Amazon’

As the work of Alianza Arkana has grown over five years, and our network of local, national and international relationships proliferates, and our indigenous partners have more confidence in us, we are able to offer an excellent research base for people who want to do work allied to our values, vision and philosophy. By working with us, researchers can often gain access to individuals and organizations that it would take them months to establish without our help, contacts and reputation.

We currently have people from four different Masters programs working with us on distinct research projects:

  • A study on the processes by which palm oil is being introduced and contested in Peru by a Masters student at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University.
  • A study on how non-hierarchical networks can help bolster indigenous knowledge and sustainable innovation by a student on the Masters program ‘Innovation for Sustainable International Development’, at the University of Sussex, in the UK.
  • A study on the role of ayahuasca tourism in helping to preserve the health of the Amazonian rainforest by a student from the Masters Program in Anthrolopogy, at the University of Oslo, Norway.
  • A practice-based study on the role of the creative arts in working with indigenous people, especially related to eco-social justice, which India Banks is doing alongside her role with us as volunteer coordinator, whilst she takes time out from her Masters program in Global Creative and Cultural Industries at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London.

Further research projects that are in the process of development are:

  • A study of indigenous health and the role ayahuasca and other medicinal plants play in this by a PhD student at La Trobe University, Melbourne.
  • A study of Shipibo culture by a PhD student at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS).
  • A study on the rise of grassroots media and technology-based investigative journalism, especially those platforms run by/that give voice to Peruvian indigenous communities affected by extractive industries by a year-long Fulbright research scholar.

Most people who join us for research also enjoy volunteering some of their time to the organization itself. We ask our researchers to make a minimum contribution of 500 Soles per month and to make an additional voluntary donation at the end of their stay. This money goes towards the payment of the rent and maintenance of our urban permaculture site.

We welcome enquiries from other researchers whose work coincides with our mission of regenerating the Peruvian Amazon by supporting its indigenous people and their traditions and is of direct benefit to the Shipibo people. Please contact Dr Paul Roberts at:

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