Abstract: Amongst many indigenous communities in South America, its place of evolutionary origin, tobacco is widely regarded as a shamanic ‘master plant’, a gift of the gods that is crucial for dealing effectively with the spirit world. This is in stark contrast to the plant’s colonial history, and its contemporary exploitation by the forces of corporate and state-sponsored global capitalism. In this seminar, I will present tobacco as a plant with an agency, the ability to assume different shapes according to the political and economic circumstances in which it is found and which it helps to form. This has had disastrous consequences for human health and well being worldwide. How has such an apparently humble plant managed to conquer the world, and what needs to happen if we are to put this particular genie back in its lamp and consider seriously ‘a world without tobacco’.
About the speaker: Andrew Russell has BA in Human Sciences (Oxford University) and a Master degree in Biomedical Anthropology (University of Pennsylvania). He completed DPhil at Oxford based on fieldwork in the hills of East Nepal. His current research primarily focuses on tobacco, its use and control. He is a founder member of the interdisciplinary Smoking Interest Group, a collaboration between the Medical Anthropology Research Group and the Centre for Medical Humanities. He works closely with colleagues in the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies and FUSE – the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health, as well as FRESH, the northeast of England’s tobacco control office.
Recorded video talk (20 min) by the speaker
Available 11.30 am onward
Live Q/A with the speaker
12.30 pm – 1.30 pm