Ep. #10 Smoking v. vaping, anthrosmelling, de/colonization, & America’s gun “tribes:” this month on TFS


iTunes Button (via NiftyButtons.com)This month, Julia (1:12) prompts us to think about ‘vaping’ e-cigarettes as a clinical compromise for smokers with schizophrenia. Having observed this strategy to be effective in the UK, she questions Australia’s black-and-white moral Subscribe on Androidapproach against vaping. She says to take such an uncompromising stance here borders on “the definition of psychotic thinking, where you become fixated on ideas to the point that you’re not open to exploring a middle ground or someone else’s viewpoints. And I would contend that the situation we’ve got in Australia, in regards to harm minimization around smoking, and the reluctance to endorse vaping as a harm minimization tool, starts to border on that psychotic edge.”

Here’s a link to Julia’s new article that she mentions:

Brown, Julia E. H. (2018) ‘Doing Things Little by Little’: Smoking and Vaping While Being Pharmaceutically Treated for Schizophrenia, Anthropological Forum, DOI: 10.1080/00664677.2018.1440192

And Simone Dennis’s recent ethnography on smoking, which Simon mentions:

Dennis, S. (2016) ‘Smokefree: A Social, Moral and Political Atmosphere. Bloomsbury  Press. https://www.bloomsbury.com/au/smokefree-9781472569226/

Next, Simon (6:09) asks, why don’t ethnographers use their noses as an ethnographic implement, and pay more attention to smell when they’re crafting descriptions of their field sites? “When you talk about the things that you hear, not just the things that you see… those add to the richness of ethnography. And one of those things that I think we can draw our attention to, in terms of making more alive the material that we write, is this idea of smell. What are the smells that we had in the field, and what do they mean, not only for our informants, but also for us?”

Simon mentions a few scholars who work on an anthropology of the senses:

Csordas, Thomas J. (1993) “Somatic Modes of Attention.” Cultural Anthropology, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 135-156.

Hirschkind, Charles. (2006) The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics. Columbia University Press, New York.

Ingold, Tim. (2011) Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. Routledge, London.

And I’m sure you don’t need it, because who doesn’t know this book? But still, here’s Mary Douglas:

Douglas, Mary. (1969) Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London.

Special guest Justine Chambers (12:30) reflects on the film Black Panther, about a nation that was never colonized, and asks: given that she knows so much about colonialism in her field site in Karen State, Myanmar, how does she, and other citizens of settler colonial nations, engage so little with the colonial legacy of Australia, her home society? As Ian asks, “there’s the difficult issue of whether justice is about finding room for indigenous people within colonial legal frameworks, like a rights framework, or whether justice would be about withdrawing those institutions altogether.”

You probably don’t need a link to Black Panther, but here is one anyway: http://marvel.com/blackpanther#/

Justine is a PhD student in anthropology at ANU’s school of Culture, History and Language and associate director of the ANU Myanmar Centre.

Finally, Ian (18:44) looks at the gun debate in America, and asks, why are the two sides described as belonging to “tribes,” a term that anthropology gave up on decades ago? The use of the term, he argues, “seems to suggest that people’s preferences are inbred… It racializes the problem,” as if “everything about a culture has to do with blood.”

Ian mentions a post called “Semi-Automatic Anthropology” on the blog Living Anthropologically: https://www.livinganthropologically.com/semi-automatic-anthropology-complexity/

And Simon mentions this one, regarding authoritarian modes of education:

Kipnis, Andrew B. (2011) Governing Educational Desire: Culture, Politics, and Schooling in China. The University of Chicago Press, London;Chicago.

This anthropology podcast is supported by the Australian Anthropological Society, the schools of Culture, History, and Language and Archaeology and Anthropology at Australian National University, and the Australian Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, and is produced in collaboration with the American Anthropological Association.

Music by Pete Dabro: dabro1.bandcamp.com

Show notes by Ian Pollock

KEYWORDS: smoking, vaping, harm minimization, smell, anthropology, ethnography, colonization, Indigenous Australia, Indigenous America, Black Panther, guns, tribalism

[Image: http://vaping360.com/ via Wikimedia]

4 thoughts on “Ep. #10 Smoking v. vaping, anthrosmelling, de/colonization, & America’s gun “tribes:” this month on TFS

  1. Great episode! Australia’s uncompromising stance on vaping is not suprising considering how poorly we perform on harm minimisation more generally. Think of how many lives could be saved by pill-testing, and are being saved right now by safe injecting rooms in some jurisdictions but not others.

    The same tin foil hat approach to policy has driven hemp prohibition and hampered medical research into one plant, while doctors prescribe opiod painkillers for tooth aches and get a whole new generation hooked on Big Pharma.

    Interestingly, studies of addiction find that black and white thinking, and an inability to consider any other perspective other than ones’ own (similarly bordering on the psychotic), is characteristic of both severe alcoholism and opioid drug addiction.

  2. Thanks for the episode. There’s a lot more anthropological work on smell; check David Howes, especially, but Sarah Pink who’s at RMIT and Constance Classen are also two good sources. I would also make sure to include Paul Stoller in any account of the anthropology of aroma, although he’s generally seen as working more on taste.

    On the question of languages with primary words for aromas, Asifa Majid has done amazing work on the sense of smell among speakers of Aslian languages. I’ve blogged about it here: http://blogs.plos.org/neuroanthropology/2014/03/09/giving-names-to-aromas-in-aslian-languages/ and there’s an interview on the PLOS Neuroanthropology blog with Asifa as well. It’s one of those really amazing cases of language being linked to sensory skill that anthropologists should know much more widely.

    Good work on the podcast, and I look forward to hearing the next episode!

    • Thanks for the heads up Greg! Will endeavour to check it out. Always interested for collaboration and more voices on an olfactory anthropology. – Simon

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