There is a rich tradition of Africanist scholarship on psychoactive substances, from writings on fermented drinks to studies of how “drugs” are defined and regulated in a colonial setting. This work fashioned innovative ways to conceptualize the shift from agrarian to industrial life, the building of segregated cities, and the blurred boundaries between illegal and legal drugs. Transformations in work that accompanied colonialism and capitalism are prominent in this literature. Yet in recent years the connections between drugs and work have attracted less attention. Contemporary political economic themes of deindustrialization, youth unemployment, and trade liberalization, are frequently considered separately from drugs, or with drug use as a peripheral concern. Sometimes an assumed connection between “unemployment” and “drugs” stands in for an analysis on the complex ways that drugs interact with the lives of the unemployed and laboring poor—varied groups who might require money to buy drugs and use exchanges involving drugs as a pathway to a viable future. This panel will aim to bring together papers that explore changing connections between drugs and the world of work. This might include discussions on unemployment, precarious work, cultivation, hustling, drug smuggling, crime, and the blurred boundaries between pharmaceutical and street drugs.

Please send your proposal containing a title and an abstract (maximum 200 words) to
mark.hunter[at] by March 10, 2020. Participants must also pre-register for the African
Studies Association Annual Meeting by March 15, 2020.