View Book

Global Tribe

ID: 1727 - View Book Page - Edit In OJS

To read an interview with the author about the book please click here

Born from extensive international research, Global Tribe documents a little understood global dance culture that has mushroomed all over the world since its beginnings in diverse psychedelic music scenes flourishing in Goa, India, in the 1970s and 1980s. From small parties to major international events such as Portugal’s Boom Festival, the paramount expression of this movement has been the festival. Via first-hand accounts of the scenes, festivals and music of psychedelic trance (psytrance) in Australia, Israel, Italy, the UK, the US, Germany, Turkey and other places, the author explores this transnational movement with attention to its diverse aesthetic roots, national translations and internal controversies. As a thoroughly engaging multi-sited ethnography and an intimate examination of the digital, chemical, cyber and media assemblage of psytrance, Global Tribe studies the integrated role of technology and spirituality in the formation of this visionary arts movement. The book demonstrates how the event-culture of psytrance accommodates rites of risk and consciousness, a complex circumstance demanding revision of existing approaches to ritual, music and culture.

Published: Nov 1, 2012


Section Chapter Authors
Acknowledgements Graham St John
Transnational psyculture Graham St John
Experience, the Orient and Goatrance Graham St John
The vibe at the end of the world Graham St John
Spiritual technology: transition and its prosthetics Graham St John
Psychedelic festivals, visionary arts and cosmic events Graham St John
Freak out: the trance carnival Graham St John
Psyculture in Israel and Australia Graham St John
Performing risk and the arts of consciousness Graham St John
Riot of passage: liminal culture and the logics of sacrifice Graham St John
Nothing lasts Graham St John
End Matter
Notes Graham St John
Bibliography, discography and filmography Graham St John
Index Graham St John

Related Books


The analyses of psytrance culture found in this book are insightful and serve to illuminate its complex religious dimensions. Nova Religio, August 2014

From the esoteric traveler jams of Goa to the liminal zones of Boom and Burning Man, Graham St John guides us through the cosmic carnival of global psytrance with an intoxicating blend of deep research, empathic ethnography, and edge-dancing cultural analysis. This is the definitive book on what has become, from the perspective of planetary spiritual culture, the most resonant music scene of our transhuman century. Erik Davis, author of The Visionary State and Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica

Graham St John writes more insightfully about psytrance than any other academic. He provides a sophisticated understanding of that subtle relationship between contemporary spirituality, dance and music. The festival and the party are also a window into broader cultural trends. He understands both the intensity and transformative experience of psytrance, and draws on, and develops, contemporary academic theory to interpret psytrance in a way that is both respectful and incisive. We need more work like this. Douglas Ezzy, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Tasmania

Idealism is particularly rampant in the psytrance phenomenon, as documented in tremendous detail by Graham St. John in his new book. Rising out of the scene in Goa, India (which should be our first red flag) in the 1970s (which should be our second red flag), 'Goatrance' as it came to be called "later developed as psychedelic trance or psytrance, which splintered into numerous subgenres by the early 2000s" (p. 3). Accordingly, the book "is a study of the Goatrance movement as it mushroomed around the world from the 1990s, attracting the designation 'psytrance' by the end of that decade" (p. 3). Showing a truly stunning familiarity, even an affection, for the psytrance circuit (St. John is the founding executive director of Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture [], and his own website [] has a distinctly psytrance feel to it), the author explores the musical and technological foundation of the movement, its relation to the 1960s "quest for experience" (p. 4), and its evolution (or devolution, depending on your point of view) in the context of global tourism, modern spirituality, and late-capitalist commodification of just about everything. Anthropology Review Database
(to see the full review click here)

With intensity, passion and an exquisite attention to detail, St John describes how “Goa”, as a signifier for a mythic space and time of privileged freedom for Western drop-outs, became synonymous with electronic trance music, “Orientalist” psychedelic aesthetics and shamanic approaches to DJ mixology and participant dance rituals. . . . Reporting in from over a decade of travels to psycultures events around the globe, St John theorizes the ontology of the traveller, describing how the Western drop-out explores “being-in-transit” by pursuing, and re-creating, the entheonautic exploration of altered states first pioneered on Anjuna beach. The many insightful and often provocative passages of Global Tribe are born out of St John’s dedication to being-in-transit as a means of self-transformation and ethnographic exploration. . . . St John calls his ethnographical approach that of the “socionaut”, whereby participant interviews but also immersion in the field with the musical and social fabric of psychonautical experiencing is interwoven with media studies approaches to electronic music and art. In short: without judgement or moralism, entheogens are ingested, described and reiterated as integral to the force and form of psyculture belongings and experiences. The resulting textual blend is intoxicating.
Dr tobias c. van Veen (University of Montreal), Dancecult 6.2, 2014

In handling these complex issues around EDMCs, St John offers a provocative, detailed and insightful reading of psyculture that—like the best texts written from the most challenging conditions of the field—poses more questions than it answers.
Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture