Thomas Joyce and Joanne Poth Joyce Award

About the Thomas Joyce and Joanne Poth Joyce Award

The Thomas Joyce and Joanne Poth Joyce Award recognizes the achievements of an undergraduate or graduate student who conducts work in civic engagement, including community-engaged scholarship and advocacy on behalf of communities, that the Department of Anthropology recognizes as representing the values of the discipline. To apply, please submit a brief email describing the form your community engagement has taken during your Berkeley years. Attach a copy of a current resume or CV and unofficial transcript.


2020 Award Winner

Mitchell Walker

 Thesis: Deconstructing The History of Violence Symbol, Psychedelics, and Soma, in exploring core traumatic experiences within a multi-abuse community

Today both psychedelics and body-based trauma research are having a renaissance. Books like Michael Pollan's How to Change Your Mind and Resmaa Menekam's Grandmother's Hands currently top the New York Times bestsellers list, implying separate roads toward the healing of core traumatic experiences. This paper focuses on where those roads converge, arguing that the dis-integration of implicit and explicit memories within the body and the mind, through the use of body based psychedelic-psychotherapy,  has the potential to deconstruct existing PTSD narratives that often trap survivors within what Allan Young called "an affliction through which pain and fear colonize and degrade the sufferer's life." 

This research focuses on a small, but influential, healing community whose practices evolved over decades, in private homes, halfway houses and the Los Angeles County Jail, to self-treat the wounds of racism, gang violence, poverty, and sex-trafficking.  The result is a healing modality that caters to the unique mental health needs of this underserved, undermined, and highly traumatized populace. They do this by using 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and Psilocybin, to potentiate a form of interoception that engages core traumatic experiences- somatically. A therapeutic modality where the mindful body can heal the embodied mind. 

Current psychedelic research (understandably) culls extreme levels of trauma from their clinical trials, skewing the research away from people of color, and those most in need, toward a model built upon familiar, psychotherapeutic systems.  This thesis offers a different and hopefully balancing approach to what some consider to be the future of psychotherapy.