A COMPARATIVE CRITICAL PHENOMENOLOGY OF DRUG ADDICTION AMONG MESTIZOS IN THE UPPER HUALLAGA VALLEY, PERU

Friday, November 18

4:45 PM – 5:00 PM

Hilton, Room: Salon B

Presenting Author: Pablo Seward Delaporte Stanford University

Among low-income mestizo peasants of the Upper Huallaga Valley in the Peruvian Amazon, addiction and collective psychological trauma are concretely tied by a recent history where political violence and illegal cocaine production were part of the same process. I use results from a pilot study in the Upper Huallaga Valley from July to September 2016 to evaluate the degree to which the phenomenology of addiction may change in cases where addiction and collective trauma are not only comorbid but also constitutive of each other. Building on the kindling theory of experience, I assess the claims that cultural invitation and collective trauma enable mestizos to attend more to certain aspects of the experience of drug addiction than others and that this results in an experience of addiction that is different from those reported in other cultural contexts. I hypothesize that, first, experiences of addiction among mestizos in the Upper Huallaga Valley will be different because of specific cultural models of the body and mind, possibly what other anthropologists working with mestizo and indigenous communities in the area have identified as a container metaphor of the body and an unstable or fluid model of the mind. Second, I hypothesize that the particular form of collective trauma among mestizos in the Valley will also shape experiences of addiction. Preliminary results of my summer fieldwork will be used to evaluate the degree to which a consideration of particular historical and political processes is necessary for a kindling theory of experience.

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