Living ‘addiction’ in states of disruption: a transdisciplinary approach to drug consumption and recovery in the Middle East
1 March 2021 - 28 February 2026
PI/s in Exeter: Dr Maziyar Ghiabi
Funding awarded: £ 350,000
Sponsor(s): Wellcome Trust
About the research
Addiction’ is a powerful diagnostic framework in interpreting human behaviour. Whether metaphorical, self-diagnosed or understood through biomedical inquiry, individuals are said to develop chronic ‘addictive’ relations with different things such as food, sex, gambling and mind-altering substances. Yet only illicit drugs are the object of strict political regulation and public control.
But can we learn what is ‘addiction’ from drug consumers’ perspective? Do different political/ideological regimes influence people’s experience of ‘addiction’? Do cultures and historical events affect the lived experience of ‘addiction’ and can we understand it beyond the lens of pathology?
I will use archival and ethnographic methods to analyse the everyday life of ‘addiction’ in states of disruption in the Middle East. Looking at Iran, Lebanon and Afghan and Syrian displaced communities living there, I will show how people using drugs, scholars treating ‘addiction’ and healers shape the way we can understand ‘addiction’.