INTRODUCTION EUGENE RAIKHEL AND WILLIAM GARRIOTT
TRACING NEW PATHS IN THE
ANTHROPOLOGY OF ADDICTION
This volume provides a critical examination of ‘‘addiction’’—a
relatively new but increasingly prominent way of thinking about
and intervening into the contemporary human experience. Rooted
largely in Western ideas about health, illness, and comportment,
addiction is now experientially, discursively, and geographically
widespread. As it assumes the status of a ‘‘global form’’ (Collier
and Ong 2005)—albeit a hotly contested one—it both shapes and
is shaped by the contexts in which it takes hold and through
which it passes. Addiction is particularly relevant as an object of
anthropological inquiry because it sits at the crossroads of some
of the issues that most define the world today: the role of scien-
tific—and particularly bioscientific—knowledge in the shaping of
identity, selfhood, and subjectivity; the mutual transformation of
novel medical technologies and the cultural settings in which
they are enacted; and the mediation of biological and psychologi-
cal systems and social and political-economic ones by subjective
and embodied meaning and experience.
The chapters in this volume were originally presented at a
workshop on the anthropologies of addiction held at McGill Uni-
versity in April 2009. During our discussions, we found that while
they reflected a range of geographical fieldwork locations and
were written from a variety of theoretical perspectives, all of
them examined addiction with an attention to a number of issues
that speak to addiction’s unique position in the contemporary
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