Between last days 1 and 4 of June it occurred at Porto Seguro, in Bahia, Brazil, the biggest event of anthropology of Latin America: the 26ª Anthropology Brazilian Meeting of Brazilian Anthropology Association (ABA). This year the direct of ABA it accepted two proposals to realization one round table discussion and one working group to discussing the “war on drugs”.
On June 2, the teacher Edward MacRae, one of the founders-researchers of Neip (Core of interdisciplinary studies on psychoactive) coordinated the round table discussion: “Formal and informal controls of the psychoactive use”. On that day, a lot of people crowded the room. The discussion included the exposure of the researcher Thiago Rodrigues (PUC/SP; NEIP), Paulo César Pontes Fraga (UESC), Eduardo Viana Vargas (UFMG) the more recent participant of NEIP.
Eduardo Vargas suggested we should go beyond the categories as “substance itself”, “set” and “setting” to think the question of drugs, to think the question of drugs and, from a reading of the theory of Bruno Latour, thinking the “event” of drug use, or ecstase from agenciamento and not agency. Paulo Fraga discussed the symbolic logic and material of marijuana’s polygon, and Thiago Rodrigues drew a wide network of historical and political relations and policies that make possible the establishment of prohibition drugs, considering also “the success of the policy failures of the war on drugs” (who interest and why continues the prohibition and complete its goal of banning the consumption of psychoactive substances in the world).
On 3 was the launching of the book “Religiões Ayahuasqueiras: um balanco bibliografico”, writing by Bia Labate, Isabel de Rose and Rafael Guimarães dos Santos. In the same day, was also beginning the Working Group Substances Psicoativas: Culture and Politics, which included the exposure of different works on the theme, with emphasis on religious use of psychoactive plants, especially in modalities related to ayahuasca and jurema.
On day 4 were the last two sessions of the GT, with exposures about various topics, such as drug use among academics, at parties raves in the northeast, public service of attendance the dependent, the new law of narcotics and the speeches doctors on drugs, among others.
Sergio Vidal discussed the need for more institutionalization of the discussion on drugs within the Brazilian Association of Anthropology and need more effective dialogue between the anthropology and others knowledge in the task of subsidizing the development og public policies ands laws on the subject. The researcher noted that discussion on drugs has not been part of the discussion in the themes of the standing committees of the ABA.
Moreover, emphasizing the fact that in 2004 the ABA had refused na invitation to attend the Symposium Cannabis Sativa L. and Substances of Cannabis in Medicine and give advice on the question “Should the Cannabis Sativa remain in tier IV of Convention of 1961?”, calling attention that this absence may have influenced the decision prepared in Decree 5.912/06 of the wave to an anthropologist ate the National Antidrug Council (CONAD) isn’t chosen through an indication of the ABA, but the President of CONAD, General Jorge Armando Felix, Chief Minister of Institutional Security Cabinet of the Presidency of the Republic.
Some of the themes that have preocucupied the researchers in this area relate to legal and ethical issues. In the first field, was the fact that several prominent researchers in the filed ate being prosecuted or threatened qith suffering legal process on the basis or theis activities to research. The second set of issues relates to the challenges that researchers in this area must face in their day-to-day search, as the difficulty to obtain “informed consent” of their informants (signed a paper where the person who says science has about what is the research and who agree to participate in them), frequent demands of the councils of medical ethics, which prevents the limit the activity of the anthropologist, especially those related to the study of illicit activities.
This meeting of the ABA was a particularly fruitful time – arriscaríamos say, even historic – because the ABA has accepted the holding of a Round Table and a GT on psicoativos. Before that, at least where our colleagues managed to remember, only one had occurred on GT psicoativos the 20 th meeting of the ABA in Salvador in 1996 (also organized by Edward MacRae).
Remember that if social scientists criticize the excessive medicalization of debate about the use of psychoactive substances in society, the theme of “drugs” is still quite marginalized within their own social sciences. Apparently, this is beginning to reverse.