Author Archives: Shana.Harris

New ADTSG Leadership

The Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco Study Group (ADTSG) is happy to announce its new leadership team!

CHAIR

Megan Sarmento (she/her) is a Ph.D. student in Applied Anthropology at the University of South Florida. She received her B.S. from the University of Central Florida and her M.A. from Georgia State University – both in anthropology! Her dissertation research focuses on the experiences of people who inject drugs and who are diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis C. She is committed to a career that increases health equity and access to treatment among this population. Her current position as the outreach program manager at the Florida Harm Reduction Collective allows her to make these contributions statewide.

VICE CHAIR

Breanne Casper recently received her Ph.D. in Applied Anthropology from the University of South Florida and is a Program Evaluation Fellow at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the former ADTSG Chair, Bree will remain in a leadership role as the new Vice Chair!

STUDENT LIAISON

Zach Whiteman (he/him) is an undergraduate student at the University of South Florida who is studying biomedical anthropology and will start his M.A. in Applied Medical Anthropology there in August 2024. He has volunteered at IDEA Exchange Tampa for two years and is passionate about harm reduction, healthcare access and equitability, and emergency medicine. He is a Florida licensed EMT-B and is hoping to combine the skills acquired as a medical provider with applied medical anthropology in the future.

To contact the ADTSG leadership team, please send an email to adtstudygroup@gmail.com.

ADTSG at 2024 SfAA Annual Meeting

The Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco Study Group (ADTSG) will be holding a meeting at the upcoming Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico! The meeting will take place on Thursday, March 28, at 11:15am in the Turquoise Room (located on the 4th Floor of the Eldorado Hotel).

We hope to see you there!

If you have any questions about the meeting, please contact ADTSG Chair, Megan Sarmento, at masarmento@usf.edu

Sessions of Interest – AAA 2023

We are just a few days away from the 2023 American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada!

There are several sessions that may be of particular interest to ADTSG members, many of which involve our members!  And don’t forget to come to the ADTSG Social Meet-Up on Friday, November 17, at 12:15pm – 1:45pm in MTCC 202 D.  All are welcome!

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16

10:15am – 12:00pm (TMCC 501 B)

Psychedelics as Transformations and Healing on the Margins

Participants: Gabrielle Lehigh, Graham St. John, Lisa Gezon, Nicole Torres, Rachel Corr

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17

8:00am – 9:45am (TMCC 203 C)

Alcohol in Transition: Conflict and Encounter in Our Social Worlds – Part 1

Participants: Brandon Lundy, Christina Collins, Justin Jennings, Katherine Parker, Christine Kray, Robert Ulin, Susanna Fioratta

10:15am – 12:00pm (TMCC 206 B)

From Decriminalization to Professionalization: The Mainstreaming of Psychedelic Usage

Participants: Nicole Torres, Tiffany-Ashton Gatsby, Santiago Guerra, Walter Callaghan, Lee Hoffer, Christian Frenopoulo, John Baker

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18

2:00pm – 3:45pm (TMCC 205 C)

Faith Through Drugs: Rehab, Recovery, and Religion

Participants: Joshua Mitchell, Louis Plottel, Sugandh Gupta, Madalina Alama, Hannah Ali, Benjamin Fogarty-Valenzuela

4:15pm – 6:00pm (TMCC 712)

Alcohol in Transition: Conflict and Encounter in Our Social Worlds – Part 2

Participants: Brandon Lundy, Christina Collins, Michelle Johnson, Verena La Mela, Jean Michaud, Sarah Turner, Edmund Searles, Paul Christensen

VIRTUAL (PRE-RECORDED)

Trauma & Ritual Initiation: A View From Research

Participant: Reed Morrison

REMINDER! ADTSG Annual Business Meeting & AAA Social Gathering

The Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco Study Group (ADTSG) will hold its annual business meeting (virtually) on Thursday, November 9, at 5:00pm EST:

Link: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/72072068687?pwd=2MPZuYLhRB9oVsMRE6mnwboT3dwarY.1

Passcode: 0NDH01

Additionally, we will hold an informal/social meeting during the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting in Toronto on Friday, November 17, at 12:15 pm – 1:45 pm in TMCC 202D. 

Hope to see you there!

ADTSG Annual Business Meeting

It’s that time again! We will be hosting the Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco, Study Group (ADTSG) Annual Business Meeting ahead of the AAAs. We will convene virtually on Thursday, November 9, at 5:00pm EST.


The annual business meeting is a chance to connect and discuss topics important to us as members of ADTSG. Please note that we are still looking for a new Chair (or Co-chairs) to run the group. If you have any questions or are interested in the position, please email Breanne Casper (casperb@usf.edu).

Zoom link to meeting:

https://us04web.zoom.us/j/72072068687?pwd=2MPZuYLhRB9oVsMRE6mnwboT3dwarY.1

Meeting ID: 720 7206 8687 / Passcode: 0NDH01

We look forward to seeing you all there!

Graduate Student Travel Award Winner: Sugandh Gupta

Congratulations to ADTSG’s 2023 Graduate Student Travel Award Winner: Sugandh Gupta!

Sugandh will be presenting a paper entitled “’The Goddess will take care of me’: Competing Faiths of Drug recovery in Jammu and Kashmir, India” at this year’s American Anthropological Association conference in Toronto!

Sugandh is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  She critically studies mental health systems and everyday care in areas of distress and socio-political conflict. Her dissertation examines the social and clinical impacts of long-term militarization and political conflict on injecting drug users, mental health professionals, and government programs that seek to rehabilitate drug users in Jammu and Kashmir, India.  Her work has been supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, American Institute of Indian Studies, Taraknath Das Foundation, and others. She has also been awarded the 2021 Polgar Award for Applied Anthropology by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  She is the co-founder of the NGO Roohaniyat Foundation and the outreach director of Mad in South Asia, an online publication, an ally, and affiliate of the international publication “Mad in America.”  She also has a Master’s degree in Psychology. Prior to starting her Ph.D. program, she worked in India as an organization and development consultant with corporate and social sector conducting ethnographic research, psychometric assessments, trainings, and workshops.

Why did you choose to study anthropology?

As a psychologist, I felt frustrated by the deep emphasis on diagnosis and clinical evaluation of clients.  I noticed that the practice of psychology lacked a socio-cultural understanding of the experience of the users of mental health services in India.  Almost everything was driven through diagnostic categories.  Anthropology allowed me to engage with questions surrounding mental health from a critical and reflective lens.

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

I got interested in alcohol, drugs, and tobacco research because I am fascinated by the omnipresence of substances and how they are responded to culturally. 

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

My research focuses on how state-sponsored care for substance users operates in the peripheries of territorial contestation, illuminating aspects of drug treatment, its accessibility, and its experience among clients living in disputed regions of chronic political unrest.  I am in the final stages of writing my dissertation.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?

In my next project, I am interested in examining the proliferation of psychiatric knowledge in everyday lives of laypersons and understanding the growth of various psychotherapeutic modalities in modern day India.  I am also working on ways to blend my diverse research, teaching, and entrepreneurial interests.

 

Graduate Student Paper Prize Winner: Alex Rewegan

Congratulations to ADTSG’s 2023 Graduate Student Paper Prize Winner, Alex Rewegan!

Alex is being award for his paper “Cannabinoids in the (Reproductive) System: Historicizing the Sciences of Cannabis and Pregnancy.”

Alex is a Ph.D. Candidate in the History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He holds a B.A. in Anthropology from McMaster University, and an M.A. in Social Anthropology from York University. 

His ethnographic research explores how cannabis legalization processes in the United States and Canada affect the lives of people who cultivated, sold, and used the plant under prohibition. Following the social life of cannabis from farm to user, he critically examines how science and technology are used by different actors in their efforts to transform the meanings and values associated with cannabis in the making of legal markets. His dissertation explores how the notions of “sustainability” and “social equity” are understood and applied in regulating the legal future of cannabis with broader implications for agricultural drug economies in the face of climate change and ongoing global transformations in drug policy.

Why did you choose to study anthropology?

I chose to study anthropology because of its explicit focus on how culture, politics, and economics affect the ways that science and medicine ask questions, frame problems, and construct their objects of intervention. I first fell in love with anthropology during my undergraduate degree when I was introduced to medical anthropology and its cross-cultural attention to the diverse and expansive ways that humans have understood health and illness across time and space. I was studying at a school dominated by “Health Science,” where anthropology was one of the only disciplines taking seriously the sociopolitical and environmental aspects of health, including a critical perspective on what “health” might mean in the first place. 

Through the amazing mentorship of my professors and collaborations with colleagues and peers, I’ve learned how the qualitative methods of anthropology are not only useful for critique, but can be applied to complement and augment science and medicine. Anthropological perspectives and its qualitative methods can help unpack the sociocultural entanglements of biomedicine and its relationship to the sciences in helping build more equitable, reflexive, and holistic research paradigms in response.

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

My interests in medical anthropology and science, technology, and society (STS) have always been embedded in questions of “the body”: how biology and biomedicine in particular have constructed how human bodies work (e.g., cellular receptors, physiological “systems”), what they are made of, and how they are co-created by their social and environmental contexts. Drugs (and food!) are fascinating in this regard because the mainstream biosciences have come to understand how bodies work based on the relational processes of what people absorb, consume, and otherwise put inside of them. Drugs are a crucial nexus for understanding how the outside world comes inside, and in turn, how science, medicine, and the state understand and act on this relationship.

Drugs, therefore, have deep significance for how modern governments and their institutions label, control, and discipline certain kinds of people and their land, while reflecting deeply held cultural assumptions about the moral, the good, and the just. The historical fact that drugs have been at the root of the material processes of racialization and gender discrimination from the beginnings of European colonialism and global racial capitalism makes them potent objects for contemporary research about how to organize our societies differently and in more equitable ways.

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

Following the recent completion of my doctoral fieldwork with both licit and illicit cannabis farmers in the U.S. and Canada, I am now deep in the writing phase of my dissertation with an expected graduation date of May 2024. My current writing focuses on how drugs are fundamentally ecological substances that have significance beyond the medicine-focused questions of their use and interactions with bodies and brains.

I hope my dissertation will contribute to the growing focus in anthropology and allied disciplines about the production and distribution of drugs beyond the more saturated, but still necessary, focus on their consumption. One of my research goals is to highlight the positive, healing, and enjoyable aspects of drugs on people and environments (like tending gardens), particularly in response to dominant narratives in anthropology and elsewhere that illicit drug use is often merely a response to trauma and structural violence.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?

Following graduation, I hope to continue my research on drugs and the environment in a postdoctoral program. My long-term goal is to work as a researcher, no matter the eventual form or venue. I have also developed a passion for teaching anthropology and the social sciences, especially to STEM students. I appreciate and find great personal satisfaction in teaching the critical insights of medical anthropology and STS to scientists and engineers while helping them think about how they might make science and biomedicine more socially informed and equitable research endeavours in their own careers. Beyond academia, I plan to maintain my long-term relationship with many of my cannabis farming interlocutors and return over and over again to their beautiful and laboriously cultivated gardens while sharing their deep appreciation for plants and the drugs they share with us.

ADTSG Seeks New Chair

The Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco Study Group (ADTSG) is seeking a new chairperson. The role of the Chair is to coordinate the group’s efforts within the Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA). Some key aspects of this role are:

  1. Coordinating and leading the annual business meeting at/around the AAA conference
  2. Working with SMA leadership on SMA Special Interest Group (SIG) initiatives and attending annual SIG leadership meetings
  3. Developing a short annual report on SIG activities for SMA
  4. Coordinating annual prizes (graduate student paper prize, graduate student travel award, and contingent faculty travel award) including marketing the prizes and recruiting prize reviewers
  5. Working with Student Liaison and Vice Chair to promote SIG and plan SIG-related activities, publications, or events.

The role requires on an average time commitment of less than five hours per week with the weeks around the AAA conference requiring slightly more time. This role is not compensated by the SMA, but it is a great way to provide service to the field and network with individuals who do research on alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.

Interested individuals should email the current Chair, Breanne Casper, via email (breeicasper@gmail.com), by October 30, 2023. The new Chair will be elected at the next ADTSG Business Meeting at the AAA Annual Meeting in Toronto.

ADTSG Seeks New Chair

The Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco Study Group (ADTSG) is seeking a new chairperson. The role of the Chair is to coordinate the group’s efforts within the Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA). Some key aspects of this role are:

  1. Coordinating and leading the annual business meeting at/around the AAA conference
  2. Working with SMA leadership on SMA Special Interest Group (SIG) initiatives and attending annual SIG leadership meetings
  3. Developing a short annual report on SIG activities for SMA
  4. Coordinating annual prizes (graduate student paper prize, graduate student travel award, and contingent faculty travel award) including marketing the prizes and recruiting prize reviewers
  5. Working with Student Liaison and Vice Chair to promote SIG and plan SIG-related activities, publications, or events.

The role requires on an average time commitment of less than five hours per week with the weeks around the AAA conference requiring slightly more time. This role is not compensated by the SMA, but it is a great way to provide service to the field and network with individuals who do research on alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.

Interested individuals should email the current Chair, Breanne Casper, via email (breeicasper@gmail.com), by October 30, 2023. The new Chair will be elected at the next ADTSG Business Meeting at the AAA Annual Meeting in Toronto.

Student Profile: Dohyun Im

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 Dohyun Im, a M.S. student at American University.

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

I majored in psychology, so I was genuinely interested in creating an inclusive society where the diversity of their sociocultural backgrounds and personal experiences would be appreciated. Yet, only studying psychology, I could not get a holistic understanding of human nature, and by taking a Drug and Society class with Dr. Dan Small as an elective course during my undergrad year, a turning point occurred for my interest in anthropological theories and the current phenomena of drug overdose and harm reduction cases as a way to understand the sociological narratives of the causes, consequences, and treatment of people in mistreated and vulnerable circumstances. 

What are your research plans for studying drugs/drug use?

For me, drug overdose and harm reduction is one way to understand others’ daily struggles and how the community and the greater society should cooperate and embrace the diversity of individuals. Based on that, I am looking forward to publishing the research paper I am working on now, aiming to synthesize the current phenomena of the increase in drug overdose after the COVID-19 pandemic and takeaways for the future pandemic crisis. 

How does anthropological theory inform your research?

I believe anthropology has evolved as a research tool to truly understand and embrace the ethnographic data of substance users’ lived experiences and everyday realities. Further, medical anthropology began to merge the experimental contribution of suffering from mental illness to political or economic approaches dealing with socially constructed inequalities. Therefore, employing anthropological theory in my study is to examine and depathologize people in marginalized populations from the stereotypical lens and demonstrate a holistic understanding of the variety of complex implicit and explicit sociocultural values, sociostructural inequalities, and the formation of a sense of belonging. 

What do you hope to do after you graduate with your Master’s degree?

I plan to pursue a Ph.D. after my Master’s in Justice, Law, and Criminology. I would like to apply psychology, sociology, and anthropology in Ph.D. programs not only limited to criminology, which was my core interest. As those disciplines are interrelated to each other, I am looking for a program that can embrace and broaden my goal of obtaining and inspiring others about the holistic understanding of human society and, ultimately, creating a better world based on the inclusion of people in a manner of respect and dignity.  

If you are an anthropology student and would like to be profiled for the ADTSG website, please contact ADTSG’s Chair, Breanne Casper, at breeicasper@gmail.com for more information!