Transnationalizing Critical Drug Studies
This essay explores transnational STS as an analytic capable of recognizing the heterogeneities, pluralities, and relationalities of drugs—legal and illegal, products of agriculture or laboratory—as emblematic material-semiotic actors that move between global North, West, South, and East and into and out of bodies. Critical drug studies flourishes as a transdisciplinary knowledge project at the nexus of anthropology, history, sociology, political science, and other knowledge projects. This article situates critical drug studies in relation to the interdisciplinary knowledge project that is transnational STS and to postcolonial, postpositivist, and decolonial STS. The paper responds to the prompt offered by the organizers of a stream of papers in 2020—on “Transnational STS” for the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S): “What becomes visible when nation-state as the only analytic breaks down? What is the role of the nation-state with regard to education, research activities and the regulation of technologies in the contemporary period?” This article deals with the bifurcated regulation of drugs as technologies made legal or illegal by a global colonial, imperial, and nation-state-based regime that has made global drug policy since the early twentieth century. We are witnessing the reconfiguration of this regulatory system within and between nations—making a transnational analytic frame necessary for recognizing the relations facilitated by global drug policy.
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