Drogas e Cultura: Novas Perspectivas [Drugs and Culture: New Perspectives]

Editors: Beatriz Caiuby Labate, Sandra Goulart, Maurício Fiore, Edward MacRae and Henrique Carneiro – Researchers of NEIP (Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies, www.neip.info).

Publisher: EDUFBA
Support: Brazilian Ministry of Culture (MinC) and Research Support Foundation of the State of São Paulo (Fapesp)
ISBN: 978-85-232-0504-1
Format: 17 X 24 cm, illustrated – 440 p.
Price: R$ 40.00 (Brazilian Reais + shipping fee)

 

Drugs are a paradoxical and enigmatic issue. Extremely important, omnipresent in the day-to-day, capable of sensitizing, mobilizing, provoking controversies, altering the trajectory of electoral disputes, spreading dissension, disturbing the authorities, alarming families, and destabilizing the public order, the issue of drugs is, nevertheless, almost completely absent from our policy decisions and the academic agenda, unless we count the isolated efforts of a few pioneers and trailblazers. No accounting of the great national and global questions would be complete without the inclusion of drugs; however, as extraordinary and surprising as it may seem, quite rare is the more daring intellectual and policy endeavor that gets beyond mere prejudice to handle the topic of drugs with depth and consistency. This curious and lamentable curse – an accomplice of the irrationality that largely dominates the official treatment of drugs – continues to hover about the topic and envelop it in silence.

 

 

Thus one welcomes this effort by Beatriz Caiuby Labate, Sandra Goulart, Maurício Fiore, Edward MacRae and Henrique Carneiro – the researchers from NEIP (www.neip.info) who edited this volume – and the worthy contributions of their authors, thanks to whom one of the essential debates of our time will escape the closet, ostracism, and negligence. The many merits of this contribution will make it an essential reference for academic studies as well as for the kind of public discussion that can motivate a broader audience to action.

The articles collected here teach us that drugs, the dynamics of their production and the circuits of their semantic, conceptual-scientific, economic, social, religious, political, aesthetic, psychological, ideological and symbolic circulation, comprise complex, multidimensional phenomena that require transdisciplinary approaches to be understood and handled. In a way, drugs do not really exist: they are historical inventions whose signifiers vary according to their cultural contexts, their specific repertoires and their particular vocabularies. Drugs are administered by doctors and shamans; they are objects of individual and collective use; they serve to exclude, excommunicate, repress, bind or violate those who consume them or those who do not consume them, depending on the case; they are consecrated in mystical rituals; they are institutionalized in family and social celebrations; they are objects of consumption; they have commercial value; they are the target of legislation; they are wisdom; they are therapies. Drugs are created by practical-discursive and historically constituted dispositions that lead to the actualization of moral norms, accusatory categories, exercises of power, economic strategies, pleasure-seeking behaviors, languages that organize consciousness and sensibility, ideological stances and experiences of sociability.

Opening itself to this practically limitless plurality of appropriations, drugs carry an extremely rich potential for the person who can think sociologically. Maybe it is for this reason that drugs represent risk, danger, threat and uncertainty. A source of pleasure and of death, drugs give us pause and, via the mediation of this book, demand to be included in the center of our political and intellectual agenda.

 

 

Luiz Eduardo Soares (Professor at the Universidade Estudal de Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) and the Universidade Cândido Mendes; Nova Iguaçu Municipal Secretary for the Promotion of Life and the Prevention of Violence.

 

Translated by Brian Anderson

Revised by Matthew Meyer