Fluid Drugs

Ayahuasca vines
Ayahuasca vines

FLUID DRUGS SESSIONS

Society for Social Studies of Science, Denver, November 2015

Organizers: Anita Hardon & Emilia Sanabria

This panel invites ethnographic accounts of the way il/licit drugs are made to do things in laboratories, therapeutic settings, drug outlets and everyday lives across regulatory settings in the Global North and South. It takes as point of departure that pharmaceutical objects do not produce universal biological effects as clinical researchers and drug regulators often assume, but that effects emerge in “a living labyrinth whose topology varies in time, where partial and circumstantial causalities are so intertwined that they often escape any a priori intelligibility” (Stengers 1996). How can we understand drug efficacy if, after Ingold, we conceptualize pharmaceuticals as “gatherings of materials in motion”? Conceptualizing pharmaceuticals as fluid rather than as bounded objects is productive because they are inherently evanescent and designed to be absorbed into bodies. The ways in which this process is locally understood and experienced is variable and influenced by marketing strategies that link desirable images and affects to drugs. While clinical trials and global regulatory mechanisms aim to stabilize the bounded contours of pharmaceutical things we suggest that this process is highly unstable. This is made evident when pharmaceuticals travel, and are used off-label for diverse non-approved indications as ethnographies of global pharmaceutical flows have eloquently shown. Such uses inspire their continuous reinvention. The changing moralities at work in local settings can either promote new uses for medicinal substances (such as marijuana as pain medication) or impede the use of others that have, rightly or wrongly, acquired negative popular representations (such as the use of prostagalins as abortifacients or LSD as treatment for addiction). Barry (2005), after Stengers, referred to this process of crafting new pharmaceutical properties or effects for drugs as making “informed material.” We invite case-studies of fluid drugs which examine the work of making drugs work across a range of scales: from informing chemical materials in trials to rendering drug effects locally meaningful in changing regulatory and experiential settings.

FLUID DRUGS I: EXPANDING MARKETS, MARKETING NEW EFFICACIES

1) Energy Drink Marketing and the Creative Cultures of Stimulant Use Marcel Salas, NYU

2) Nutritional cure-alls in motion Anita Hardon, UVA

3) Orphan blockbusters: pharmaceutical business models & personalized medicine. Anna Geltzer, Cornell

4) The Selves of Technologies: Moral Subjectivities & Prescription Stimulants Tazin K Daniels, Michigan

Discussant: Kaushik Sunder Rajan, University of Chicago


FLUID DRUGS II: INSTITUTING KNOWLEDGE & THE SETTING OF EXPERIMENTAL PRACTICES

5) Globalization through trials: regulatory pathways toward modernization of medicinal herbs Wen-Hua Kuo, National Yang-Ming University

6) MDMA is not Ecstasy: Effecting structure in clinical trials Katherine Marie Hendy, UC Berkeley

7) Exploring Place in South African Drug Discovery Anne Pollock, Georgia Tech

8) The set(ting) of Ayahuasca’s efficacy Emilia Sanabria, ENS Lyon

9) Imagination and immunization: vaccines in Korea and Taiwan Tzung-wen Chen, Sociology, Chengchi University

Discussant: Richard W Rottenburg, University of Halle


FLUID DRUGS III: PHARMACEUTICAL PRACTICES RECONFIGURING EMBODIED EXPERIENCES

10) Doing the Detox: exploring the body through juice fasting in Amsterdam. Lisanne Claessens, UVA

11) Rethinking psychiatric medication: MDMA and ecological views of the body Swasti Mishra, UVA

13) The Biomedicalization of Studying Christine Stevenson & Jenny Dyck Brian, Arizona State University

14) Pluripotent Stimulants in the Lives of Young Adults Anisha Chadha, New York University

Discussant: Tehseen Noorani (New School)