1st Edition

The Anthropology of Drugs

By Neil Carrier, Lisa L. Gezon Copyright 2023
    204 Pages
    by Routledge

    204 Pages
    by Routledge

    From khat to kava to ketamine, drugs are constitutive parts of cultures, identities, economies and livelihoods. This much-needed book is a clear introduction to the anthropology of drugs, providing a cutting-edge and accessible overview of the topic. The authors examine and assess the following key topics:

    • How drugs feature in anthropology and the work of anthropologists and the general role of drugs in society
    • Comparison between biochemical and pharmacological approaches to drugs and bio-socio-cultural models of understanding drugs
    • Evolutionary origins of psychotropic drug sensitivity and archaeological evidence for the spread of psychoactive substances in pre-history
    • Drugs in spiritual and religions contexts, considering their role in altered states of consciousness, divination and healing
    • Stimulant drugs and the ambivalence with which they are treated in society
    • Addiction and dependency
    • Drug economies, livelihoods and the production and distribution segments of drug commodity chains
    • Drug policies and drug wars
    • Drugs, race and gender
    • The future of the study of drugs and anthropological professional engagements with solving drug problems

    With the inclusion of chapter summaries and many examples, further reading and case studies – including drug tourism, drug industries in the Philippines and Mexico, Afghanistan and the ‘Golden Triangle’ and the opioid crisis in North America – The Anthropology of Drugs is an ideal introduction for those coming to the topic for the first time, and also for those working in the professional and health sectors. It will be of interest to students of anthropology and to those in related disciplines including sociology, psychology, health studies and religion.

    1. Introducing the Anthropology of Drugs  2. Anthropological Themes and Approaches in the Study of Drugs  3. Drugs in Archaeological and Historical Perspectives  4. Food of the Gods?: Psychedelics, spirits and healing  5. Stimulating Sociality  6. Perspectives on Addiction in Anthropology 7. Drug Economies, Livelihoods and Development  8. The Drug War and its Effects  9. Postlude: Engagements and Future Directions


    Neil Carrier is Associate Professor in Social Anthropology at the University of Bristol, UK. He has conducted much research into the production, trade and consumption of khat in Kenya and beyond, as well as further research into the theme of drugs, including a current project on cannabis in Africa. Wider interests include film, photography and urban development in Kenya.

    Lisa L. Gezon is Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama-Birmingham, USA. She has studied political ecology and protected area management in Madagascar. She developed an interest in the production, trade and consumption of khat in northern Madagascar because of its perceived threat to the protected forest. She has also studied multiple subjects related to health and wellness on topics such as tourism, yoga and exercise on a bicycle-pedestrian trail.