Jonasson lecture to focus on Carlos Castaneda’s writing

Ageeth SluisAgeeth Sluis will speak on “Carlos Castaneda, Anthropology and the Construction of a Magical Mexico” on Wednesday, April 13, at 7 p.m. in the Austin Reading Room in the Nicholson Library at Linfield College.

This lecture will focus on Sluis’ current research about the American author Carlos Castaneda, who in 1960, found himself eye to eye with Juan Matus, a “Yaqui shaman,” in a bus station in the border town of Nogales, Ariz. Castaneda, then a graduate student in anthropology at UCLA, met “Don Juan” because he sought an informant on the indigenous use of psychotropic plants. Castaneda supposedly got more than he bargained for when he became the shaman’s apprentice. Describing the “separate realities” of a secret indigenous world, Castaneda’s first three books, beginning with “The Teachings of Don Juan,” became international bestsellers and propelled Castaneda into the world of fame and notoriety.

Sluis will explore how Castaneda’s work provides a unique window on a series of related phenomena: the rise of a New Left, counterculture spirituality, a politicization of anthropology, new understandings of indigenous identity, and the creation of a magical Mexico.

Sluis is the associate professor of Latin American history and affiliate faculty in gender, women and sexuality studies and international studies at Butler University. She received her Ph.D. at the University of Arizona. Her work explores how the intersections of gender, space, sexuality and power have appeared in journals such as The Americas, the Journal of Urban History and the Journal of Transnational American Studies.  She recently published her first book “Deco Body, Deco City: Female Spectacle and Modernity in Mexico City, 1900-1939.”

This event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Jonas A. “Steine” Jonasson Endowed Lecture that honors Jonasson, professor emeritus of history, who was associated with Linfield for more than 60 years before his death in 1997. The endowment is used to bring in distinguished scholars and speakers in the area of history. Jonasson held the unofficial title of Linfield historian and wrote “Bricks Without Straw,” a history of the college. For more information, call 503-883-2306 or email