CFP: Professional Perspectives in the Anthropology of Drugs

Panel at 2014 AAA Conference — December 3-7 in Washington, D.C.
Professional Perspectives in the Anthropology of Drugs

Shana Harris (National Development and Research Institutes) –
Tazin Karim (Michigan State University) –

Research in the anthropology of drugs has focused on the users or consumers of alcohol, tobacco, and other substances.  Such analyses have produced volumes on the experience of drug use — practices, behaviors, transactions, and relationships — from the perspective of the drug user.  Often as responses to critical circumstances, these studies have illuminated the intricacies of major health epidemics, drug distribution and redistribution, and other drug-related phenomena.  They have made important contributions to drug treatment, prevention, policy, and the general advancement of knowledge. The impact of this work is and continues to be unquestionable, both academically and practically.  Nevertheless, this literature has historically overshadowed the equally valuable and often underrepresented experiences of those who provide care and treatment, implement prevention interventions, and campaign for drug policy reform.  Accordingly, we ask: Where are the perspectives of professionals in the anthropology of drugs?

This panel addresses this dearth in the anthropology of drugs by taking professionals as its analytic focus.  It examines the role of these individuals in attending to and — in some cases — contributing to drug use, abuse, policy, and related issues.  Such professionals work in a variety of contexts, including clinics, pharmacies, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the streets. They are purveyors of services, sources of substances, architects of policies and laws, and producers of knowledge.  Drawing on research from both the global north and the global south, panelists present research that draws critical attention to the central position that professionals play in drug worlds.  Not only do they challenge the marginal positionality of the professional in drug studies, they illustrate the importance of turning our ethnographic gaze to those on the delivery rather than receiving end of interventions, care, and policies.  By paying attention to the work of these professionals, we as anthropologists can enrich our understanding of all things drugs.  Thus, this panel seeks to contribute to a more complete — and even a more productive — anthropology of drugs.

We invite abstracts for papers that ethnographically explore the perspectives, experiences, behaviors, and role of professionals in contexts of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use, abuse, treatment, intervention, and policy.  Please submit an abstract (250 words max.) to the panel organizers by SUNDAY, MARCH 23, for consideration.