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In Memoriam: Marlene Dobkin de Rios

June 21, 2013

Marlene Dobkin de Rios

Marlene Dobkin de Rios

Marlene Dobkin de Rios, emeritus professor of anthropology, died of cancer Nov. 10. She was 73. She was a medical anthropologist, psychotherapist and an expert on drug use among peasant societies in South America.

De Rios, who lived in Placentia, joined the Cal State Fullerton faculty in 1969 and retired in 1998. She had a bachelor's degree in psychology from Queens College in New York, a master's degree in anthropology from New York University and a doctorate in medical anthropology from UC Riverside. As a professor at CSUF, she specialized in hallucionogens and healing, shamanism and religious experiences, developing and teaching courses in comparative aesthetics and symbolism, anthropology of religion, psychological anthropology and ethno-pharmacopia, said Joseph J. Nevadomsky, professor of anthropology.

“Marlene was softly tough but straight, pleasantly assertive but honest, convincing but accommodating, a strong woman who was very kind, with a sense of New York humor that was only slightly acerbic, certainly ironic, but always funny. A former student described her as an ‘influential presence and inspiring instructor,’ ” Nevadomsky said.

She participated in the First World Congress of Folk Medicine in Peru in 1979 as a Fulbright Awardee. She also served a stint as director of the Office of Faculty Research in the early 1980s.

De Rios wrote hundreds of research journal articles, as well as a number of books, including:Fate, Fortune & Mysticism in the Peruvian Amazon: The Septrionic Order and the Naipes Cards” (Park Street Press, 2011); The Psychedelic Journey of Marlene Dobkin de Rios: 45 Years with Shamans, Ayahuasqueros, and Ethnobotanists” (Park Street Press, 2009) and “Hallucinogenic Tea, Laced with Controversy: Ayahuasca in the Amazon and the United States” (Praeger, 2008). During her tenure at CSUF, she also served as an associate clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at UC Irvine and maintained a private consulting practice in Orange County.

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