Read a summary of the book recently launched by NEIP, the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies.
“There is an excess of topics related to the theme of “drugs” that are not related with the Dionysian or with any notion of “abuse” or overdose. They deal with an abundance of clichés, prejudices, moralism, and fixed ideas. Few topics nowadays touch upon as many taboos and prohibitions as that of psychoactive drugs. This rule of thumb does not apply to all psychoactive drugs however. Rather, it generally concerns those prohibited by law or condemned by the dominant morality, by conventional psychology, and by medicine. An enormous quantity of legal drugs produced by the pharmaceutical industry lives side by side with illicit drugs that generate around themselves a powerful international war that mobilizes states and networks of traffickers who hold global influence. Traditional uses of age-old drugs simultaneously exist with new practices related to these substances. And in any case, the literature that deals with the “question of drugs” is not accustomed to go beyond the narrow field that goes from medical works of a largely conservative nature, passes through the books of law, and ends with the often sensationalistic journalistic reports. Until recently, the social sciences formed a disciplinary space occupied by a few brave efforts to study “drugs,” but these few efforts were surrounded by an overbearing silence. The book Drugs: Perspectives from the Social Sciences, the result of a symposium organized by the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP, www.neip.info) and that took place at the Universidade de São Paulo in 2005, represents an important push by researchers in the areas of anthropology, sociology, political sciences, law, and history to approach the topic of “drugs” from multiple angles and who have as their common ground the staunch criticism of the prohibition of these substances. Comprising seventeen articles, besides a preface and an introduction, the volume is organized into three parts: “Drugs and Prohibition in the West,” with four articles that reflect on the history and logic of the current day prohibitionist regime; “From the Hard Sciences to the Humanities: Drugs, Medicine and the Social Sciences,” with three articles that examine the role of interdisciplinarity in the analysis of psychoactive substances; and “Uses of Psychoactive Substances in Perspective,” which covers the majority of the texts in the collection and approaches the topic of drugs from the perspectives of different fields such as anthropology, ethnology and history. The work offers an ample spectrum of approaches that constructs points of convergence and dialogue, and which creates zones of tension that are evident in the lack of consensus and composure that is common when dealing with a question like that at hand. This book serves as a reference for those who do not align themselves with what has already been published about “drugs” and who feel enough discomfort to be propelled to seek out other angles, viewpoints, and ideas on the topic.” (Thiago Rodrigues)