Bringing anthropological perspectives to bear on addiction, the contributors to this important collection highlight the contingency of addiction as a category of human knowledge and experience. Based on ethnographic research conducted in sites from alcohol treatment clinics in Russia to Pentecostal addiction ministries in Puerto Rico, the essays are linked by the contributors' attention to the dynamics—including the cultural, scientific, legal, religious, personal, and social—that shape the meaning of "addiction" in particular settings. They examine how it is understood and experienced among professionals working in the criminal justice system of a rural West Virginia community; Hispano residents of New Mexico's Espanola Valley, where the rate of heroin overdose is among the highest in the United States; homeless women participating in an outpatient addiction therapy program in the Midwest; machine-gaming addicts in Las Vegas, and many others. The collection's editors suggest "addiction trajectories" as a useful rubric for analyzing the changing meanings of addiction across time, place, institutions, and individual lives. Pursuing three primary trajectories, the contributors show how addiction comes into being as an object of knowledge, a site of therapeutic intervention, and a source of subjective experience.
Contributors. Nancy D. Campbell, E. Summerson Carr, Angela Garcia, William Garriott, Helena Hansen, Anne M. Lovell, Emily Martin, Todd Meyers, Eugene Raikhel, A. Jamie Saris, Natasha Dow Schüll
Introduction. Tracing New Paths in the Anthropology of Addiction / Eugene Raikhel and William Garriott 1
1. The Elegiac Addict / Angela Garcia 36
2. Balancing Acts: Gambling-Machine Addiction and the Double Bind of Therapeutics / Natasha Dow Schüll 61
3. A Few Ways to Become Unreasonable: Pharmacotherapy Inside and Outside the Clinic / Todd Meyers 88
4. Pharmaceutical Evangelism and Spiritual Capital: An American Tale of Two Communities of Addicted Selves / Helena Hansen 108
5. Elusive Travelers: Russian Narcology, Transnational Toxicomanias, and the Great French Ecological Experiment / Anne M. Lovell 126
6. Signs of Sobriety: Rescripting American Addiction Counseling / E. Summerson Carr 160
7. Placebos or Prostheses for the Will: Trajectories of Alcoholism Treatment in Russia / Eugene Raikhel 188
8. "You Can Always Tell Who's Using Meth": Methamphetamine Addiction and the Semiotics of Criminal Difference / William Garriott 213
9. "Why Can't They Stop?" A Highly Public Misunderstanding of Science / Nancy D. Campbell 238
10. Committed to Will: What's at Stake for Anthropology in Addiction / A. Jamie Saris 263
Afterword. Following "Addiction Trajectories" / Emily Martin 284
"From an accomplished group of scholars come deeply instructive and timely accounts of the unseen of addiction's moral grip. Addiction Trajectories will be a standard-bearer in the new anthropology of addiction."—Adriana Petryna, coeditor of Global Pharmaceuticals: Ethics, Markets, Practices
"The experience of addiction has given rise to a huge literature, divided between biomedical accounts on the one hand, and, on the other, personal narratives, often inspired by the Alcoholics Anonymous paradigm. Qualitative social research by anthropologists and sociologists has been scarce thus far, but this wonderful collection shows that larger social and cultural processes do much to shape experiences usually seen in terms of individual failings and heroisms. Eugene Raikhel and William Garriott have brought together analyses that respect the feelings and ideas of ordinary 'addicts' but that allow us to go beyond the Oprah Winfrey 'just do it' approach."—Mariana Valverde, author of Diseases of the Will: Alcohol and the Dilemmas of Freedom
“I would highly recommend the book especially to readers within anthropology and other related disciplines, who are interested in addiction, diseases, illnesses, and also in organizing ideas of what it means to be human: these ideas assume specificity in different historical and spatial settings, as they are related to political and commercial histories of pharmaceuticals and illegal drugs and their translations and transformations.”
“Addiction Trajectories provides a creative blend of anthropology, neuroscience, psychiatry, and philosophy, and it does so through the engaging stories of individuals suffering from various addictions. . . . I found this book to be a refreshing perspective on the psychology, biology, and ethnography of addiction. This blending of disciplines serves as a powerful reminder to the medical community that addiction should not be overly biologized.”
Metapsychology Online Reviews
“I found this a fascinating book… The chapters deconstructed all the usual notions one holds about addiction trajectories and opened up a myriad of trajectories of temporal, cultural and spatial dimensions.”
British Journal of Psychiatry
“. . . this volume reflects the heterogeneous richness of contemporary anthropology, with its openness to complementary disciplines. . . . there are many excellent chapters in the book. The introduction is a valuable guide for anyone grappling with the many contradictions within the addiction research literature, as it carefully parses out the complexity behind this term.”
Medical Anthropology Quarterly
“Whereas many volumes will deal with addiction to only one class of substances or behaviours, Addiction Trajectories breaks away by discussing addiction to a wide range of illicit and legal substances, and even gambling. This book also does great credit to the field of medical anthropology by highlighting why a holistic, multi-layered perspective approach is important if health and wellbeing providers hope to understand, and thereby treat, addiction.”
Kyle W. West
Centre for Medical Humanities
"I very much enjoyed reading this book, and would recommend it to qualitative researchers embarking on research in addiction, doctoral students and healthcare professionals working in the field of addiction but also more widely as engaging examples of ethnographic research which has been well conducted.... Addiction Trajectories was an easy and interesting read, covering a wide range of topics on addiction through a series of ethnographic case studies. The volume is a very welcome addition to the literature on addiction."
Sociology of Health & Illness
"Through the ten insightful studies included in Addiction Trajectories, the editors, Eugene (gambling, heroine, alcohol, methadone). Systematically addressing the emergence of ‘addiction’ as an object of knowledge, intervention and contention, and deeply interested in the impact of an increasing array of therapeutic technologies for target subjects themselves, they emphasize not only the heterogeneity of circumstances, but also the dynamic character of this phenomenon ‘on the move’. As a result of their highly original proposal, the subject emerges as a telling example of the ‘politics of life’, proving a privileged site of anthropological analysis that combines individual experiences of desire, pleasure and suffering with expertise in medicine, psychotherapy, religion and the regulatory ambitions of the state."
Claudia Fonseca, Soraya Fleischer & Taniele Rui
"This book has much to offer clinicians, researchers and policy makers, reminding us of the evolving nature of the concept of addiction, its multifaceted explanations and implications, and above all the importance of open minds when considering its management."
Drugs and Alcohol Today
"Addiction Trajectories is a highly relevant collection. . . . It will continue to be essential reading for anthropologists and others who are committed to rethinking addiction through immersed anthropological fieldwork and the other kinds of following that these contributors encourage us toward."