Author Archives: Shana.Harris

ADTSG Business Meeting

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The virtual Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco Study Group Business Meeting will be held on Monday, November 1, from 4:00pm – 5:00pm EST. All interested in alcohol, drugs, and tobacco research are welcome to attend!

Please email ADTSG Chair Breanne Casper at casperb@usf.edu for the meeting link.

Graduate Student Travel Award Winner: Joshua Falcon

Congratulations to ADTSG’s 2021 Graduate Student Travel Award Winner, Joshua Falcon!

Joshua will be presenting a paper entitled “Psychedelics as Technologies of the Self: An Ethnographic and Netnographic Study on the Relationship Between Psilocybin Experiences and Subjectivity” at this year’s American Anthropological Association conference. 

Read on to learn more about Joshua’s research. 

Why did you choose to study anthropology?

As someone who has always appreciated distinct forms knowledge and learning through different modalities, my interest in anthropology came about as a natural fit. My early academic pursuits in both philosophy and religious studies were what initially spurred my curiosity of other ways of knowing and being in the world; however, my decision to become an anthropologist came about by recognizing that different societies and people perceive, live, and understand the world in innumerable ways. Anthropology also attracted my interest given that, as a discipline, it tends to ground the researcher through social engagements that help keep one out of the confines of ivory tower thinking and hubris. 

Why are you interested in alcohol, drugs, and tobacco research?

My work maintains affinities with alcohol, drugs, and tobacco research insofar as I engage directly with topics such as drug politics, the War on Drugs, the phenomenology of drug use, and the physiological effects of drugs. I feel that it is important to further research on drugs due to the history of stigmatization and illegalization of drugs that has led to innumerable socioenvironmental atrocities. 

What are your research plans for studying alcohol, drugs, and tobacco?

I feel that my research falls within the scope of ADTSG since my work involves ongoing research on psychedelic drug use in Miami, Florida, and the wider United States. My current project involves conducting 40 semi-structured interviews with individuals from Miami, Florida, while it also includes an analysis of 100 experience reports posted on online forums. The Source Research Foundation for psychedelic research helped to fund my project and serves as a valuable source of support for others researching similar topics.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?

Once I graduate, I plan to teach at a university as a full-time professor. Ideally, I would teach classes that center on human-environment relations, psychedelic drugs and culture, and critical posthumanism, to name a few areas of interest. Given that jobs in the social sciences at universities are becoming increasingly competitive and scarce, I am prepared to work in a more applied environment that hopefully allows me to use my knowledge about drugs to help change oppressive policies while educating people about drugs.

Graduate Student Paper Prize Winner: Benjamin Holt

Congratulations to ADTSG’s 2021 Graduate Student Paper Prize Winner, Benjamin Holt!

Benjamin is being award for his paper “Cannabis Vaporizing in Sonoma County: User Perceptions and Behavior,” an insightful paper about cannabis vaporizing.

Benjamin is a recent medical anthropology M.A. graduate from San Francisco State University who specializes in qualitative research on the health effects of drug misinformation. Though his thesis focused on a collection of original ethnographic interviews with cannabis vaporizer consumers in his home county of Sonoma, he also has experience researching other aspects of alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis use in Northern California’s greater Bay Area. Benjamin’s goal is to bridge the divide between public health scientists and the communities of drug consumers they study so that the health information produced together can be accurate and actionable for all.

Why did you choose to study anthropology?

I actually fell into anthropology somewhat by accident. It was my second choice for an undergraduate major when the overload of applications impacted the psychology department at San Francisco State University. Luckily for me, anthropology’s humanistic and reflexive approach was exactly what I’d been looking for the whole time. I appreciated how the anthropology department faculty at SFSU encouraged me to study local health issues through a combination of social and biological sciences in a way that connected macro-social policy influences and the microcosm of people’s everyday experiences.

Why are you interested in alcohol, drugs, and tobacco research?

I chose to study cannabis because it is an especially controversial substance that has gained more scientific attention as states like California legalize some form of its use and distance themselves from the staunch federal prohibition. I also specifically chose vaporizers and solvent-based cannabinoid extracts because they are an extremely recent development in the long history of human cannabis consumption. Given these unique circumstances, it felt like there was an opportunity to study an emerging drug consumption trend from the experienced consumers’ point of view before the scientific community reached a consensus on the health outcomes.  

What are your research plans for studying alcohol, drugs, and tobacco?

Cannabis vaporizers and concentrated products, particularly the most potent versions, are still an understudied topic and future public health research projects can benefit from an anthropological approach. The style and specificity of the interview questions from this thesis worked well and could be applied to consumers in other California counties, or even other states, that have adopted pro or anti-cannabis policies. In the future, I hope to continue to research how medical misinformation affects alcohol, tobacco, and drug consumers’ perceptions and behavior because it can help people understand the barriers to effective policy and public health interventions.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?

After a demanding year completing my master’s thesis and graduating amidst the COVID pandemic, I took some time to celebrate this accomplishment with my family and my community. Winning this award gives me the confidence to dream big and explore publishing a version of this thesis. At the moment, I am searching for professional opportunities in academic or non-profit health research on alcohol, tobacco, or preferably cannabis. I’m also interested in private sector opportunities to apply my qualitative research skills towards consumers’ experiences, given the company’s values aligned with my own. Although I am not opposed to pursuing Ph.D. programs, I’d like to gain some more occupational experience and insight before deciding on the specifics. Ultimately, I look forward to tackling whatever the future throws my way with a unique perspective and skill set from my medical anthropology degree. 

Job Posting: Biocultural anthropologist at UNL

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s School of Global Integrative Studies is hiring an Assistant Professor in Biocultural Anthropology – Epigenetics. As part of this position’s application, there is a component requiring a statement which describes “How your work fits the focus of the Rural Drug Addiction Research (RDAR) COBRE mission.” To learn more about the RDAR Center and their mission, please visit their website.

The review date for this position is November 1, 2021. To find out more and submit an application, please visit UNL’s employment site.

Rural Drug Addiction Research Center |

ADTSG 2021 Contingent Faculty Travel Award

The Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco Study Group (ADTSG) of the Society for Medical Anthropology
invites applications for a travel award to attend the 2021 AAA Annual Meeting in Baltimore,
Maryland. An award of $100 will be given to a contingent faculty member (adjunct, instructor, postdoc,
or similar non-tenure positions) presenting a paper at the conference that engages questions
related to alcohol, drugs, tobacco, or other psychoactive substance use. The award will be rewarded on a
competitive basis once every two years and reviewed by a committee comprised of ADTSG members.

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QUALIFYING CRITERIA

  • Applicant must be a contingent faculty member (adjunct, instructor, post-doc, or similar non-tenure position)
  • Applicant must be presenting a paper at the 2021 AAA Annual Meeting (this award is open to both hybrid and in-person attendees)
  • Applicant must be a member of the Society for Medical Anthropology (see http://americananthro.org for instructions on how to join)

SUBMISSION PROCESS

  • Submit your paper abstract, university affiliation, position, and contact information (no additional materials are required) to Breanne Casper, Chair of ADTSG, at casperb@usf.edu
  • Applications must be received by 5:00PM EST on September 1, 2021, for full consideration.

Questions may be directed to Breanne Casper at the above email address. We look forward to your submissions!

ADTSG 2021 Graduate Student Travel Award

The Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco Study Group (ADTSG) of the Society for Medical Anthropology invites applications for a travel award to attend the 2021 AAA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.  An award of $100 will be given to a graduate student presenting a paper at the conference that engages questions related to alcohol, drugs, tobacco, or other psychoactive substance use.  The ADTSG Graduate Student Travel Award is awarded annually on a competitive basis and reviewed by a committee comprised of ADTSG members.

QUALIFYING CRITERIA

  • Applicant must be currently enrolled in a graduate program
  • Applicant must be presenting a paper at the 2021 AAA Annual Meeting (this award is open to both hybrid and in-person attendees)
  • Applicant must be a member of the Society for Medical Anthropology (see http://americananthro.org for instructions on how to join)

SUBMISSION PROCESS

  • Submit your paper abstract, university affiliation, graduate program (M.A. or Ph.D.), and contact information (no additional materials are required) to Breanne Casper, Chair of ADTSG, at casperb@usf.edu
  • Applications must be received by 5:00PM EST on September 1, 2021, for full consideration.

Questions may be directed to Breanne Casper at the above email address. We look forward to your submissions!

ADTSG 2021 Graduate Student Paper Prize

The Alcohol, Drug, and Tobacco Study Group (ADTSG) of the Society for Medical Anthropology
invites submissions for the best graduate student paper in the anthropology of alcohol, drugs,
tobacco, or other psychoactive substance use. A committee of ADTSG members will judge
qualifying submissions. The author of the winning paper will receive a cash award of $100, and their
name will be announced at the Society for Medical Anthropology awards ceremony at the American
Anthropological Association Annual Meeting in November 2021. Submissions from all
anthropological sub-disciplines are encouraged.

QUALIFYING CRITERIA

  • No more than 9,000 words (including references and notes)
  • Must be based on original fieldwork and data
  • Must have been written in the past 12 months
  • Primary or first author must be a graduate student at time of submission
  • May be unpublished or submitted for publication at the time of submission

JUDGING CRITERIA

  • Originality of fieldwork and data
  • Richness of substantive or evidentiary materials
  • Clarity of anthropological methods
  • Linkage of work to social science literature
  • Effective use of theory and data
  • Organization, quality of writing, and coherence of argument

SUBMISSION PROCESS

  • Please do not include your name or any identifying information in the paper itself.
  • Papers must be double spaced and in PDF format (please include page numbers).
  • References and in-text citations should be formatted according to Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Please submit via email to Breanne Casper, Chair of ADTSG, at casperb@usf.edu
  • Submissions must be received by 5:00PM EST on August 20, 2021, for full consideration.

Questions may be directed to Breanne Casper at the above email address. We look forward to your submissions!

ADTSG Leadership

The Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco Study Group is happy to announce that Bree Casper is our new Chair! Bree served as our Student Liaison for several years, and we know that she’s going to do a great job leading our SIG through its next phase!

Bree Casper, new SIG Chair

Outgoing Chair, Shana Harris, will assist Bree as she transitions to her new position by serving as Vice Chair. We thank Roland Moore for his many years of service as Vice Chair and for his commitment to help our SIG grow! We couldn’t have done it without you, Roland!

If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with Bree, feel free to contact her at our SIG email address: adtstudygroup@gmail.com.

MAQ Modular Textbook

Message from incoming ADTSG Chair, Bree Casper:

The Society for Medical Anthropology’s (SMA) Special Interest Group leaders recently received an email from the SMA about creating a Modular textbook. I am reaching out to see if anyone would be interested in working on this together. I have shared the description below. Please email me directly if you would like to participate: casperb@usf.edu.

“For a couple years now, Eugene Raikhel and I have been talking about a sort of modular textbook or reader curated from MAQ archives. The idea is that we would create a flexible medical anthropology syllabus–15-20 topics with links to 3-4 related articles from the MAQ archives (or, really, anything from the anthrosource archives)–along with short introductions (~1500 words) to each of those curated topics written by the people who have put them together. These modules might also include recorded lectures and maybe podcasts of authors reading their articles–it could really be a multi-platform set of stuff to use in the classroom, and people could pick and choose from it as it fits their course design. The modules might also include sample assignments or exam prompts–basically everything someone might need to drop into a week or two in a course syllabus.”

Student Profile: Megan Sarmento

Here is the latest installment of ADTSG’s student profiles feature!

These profiles are a way for the ADTSG membership to become acquainted with the next generation of anthropologists of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.  In this vein, each profile will introduce one graduate or undergraduate student to the group by asking them a series of questions related to their background and career aspirations in this field.

In this installment, we are profiling Megan Sarmento, a recent M.A. graduate from Georgia State University.

Why did you choose to study anthropology?

I always hoped that I could build towards a career that ameliorates social injustices. While I thought I might major in humanities and sociology during my first year of undergraduate school, my first course in anthropology introduced me to the academic and career path that I have since been passionately eager to pursue.  Anthropological theories intrigue me because they do not naively strive for complete objectivity when studying the complexity of human beings. Ethnographic and qualitative research methods equip sociocultural anthropologists with the tools to scientifically observe and analyze human behavior while remaining connected to humanity. As an applied medical anthropologist, I am now equipped to perform research that is applied to implement positive changes towards health and social equity.

Why are you interested in alcohol, drugs, and tobacco research?

Abstinence-based models of health care for people who use drugs (PWUD), in addition to strict criminalization of drug use, have kept PWUD in a marginalized position. Health care services for PWUD are inadequate due to this framework and the subsequent stigmatization that is perpetuated. As I was introduced to anthropological research on harm reduction principles and syringe services programs, I found that much work needs to be done in the U.S. to implement the findings of such work by making improvements to outdated laws and health care practices for PWUD.

What are your research plans for studying alcohol, drugs, and tobacco?

My work advocates for the improvement of harm reduction services, and specifically syringe services programs (SSP), as they develop across the U.S. My expertise in ethnographic and qualitative research methods, grounded in anthropological praxis principles, will be used to evaluate these services and advocate for the advancement of health care as a human right despite social stigmas.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?

After taking a one-year sabbatical upon completion of my Master of Arts degree, I will begin my doctoral studies in August 2022 at the University of South Florida. As a PhD student in Medical Anthropology, I will evaluate the development of Tampa’s first SSP in collaboration with the Tampa General Hospital and other medical anthropology students.  My work will contribute to the development of this SSP throughout the greater Tampa Bay area and support the improvement of health care for PWUD throughout the U.S.

If you are an anthropology student and would like to be profiled for the ADTSG website, please contact ADTSG’s Student Liaison, Breanne Casper, at casperb@mail.usf.edu for more information!