Asking Alice: Essays on Drugs and Contemporary Culture
Ian Jones and Ingrid Walker Fields, editors
Final Call for Papers
At this time, we invite papers specifically focused on areas of popular culture, essays reflecting widespread and increasing illegal drug use (and its representation) in music, fashion, the visual arts, software and the internet, religion and spirituality, etc. Please send abstracts by October 15 to Ingrid Walker Fields, via email.
“By the age of 24, half the population of Britain has used illegal drugs.”
- The Face 17 June1998
Recent developments in social and cultural scholarship have demanded attention to issues of difference and diversity, to identities "outside the normative framework of white, European, heterosexual masculinity within which academic disciplines tacitly operated" (Roseneil and Seymour, Practicing Identities,1999).
Feminist theory, postcolonial theory, and queer theory have each contested prevailing assumptions of normality, difference and deviance. Given contemporary estimates of illegal drug use across a wide range of social groups and the clearly considerable influence of drugs on literary, cultural, artistic, musical and academic production, it is remarkable that no unified body of critical analysis has developed which similarly challenges the normative dominance of anti-drug discourses.
The ideological dominance of anti-drugs crusaders, the continuing illegality of much drug use and the discrediting stigma of a declared interest in the subject have inhibited, with a handful of notable exceptions, the articulation by academics of "that literally outlawed voice - the user’s ... that forbidden focus, the user’s point of view" (David Lenson On Drugs, 1995). The recent relaxation of UK and Canadian laws on cannabis, perhaps the first step toward its eventual legalization, prompts a long-overdue and wide-ranging scholarly analysis of the social and cultural impact of extensive illegal drug use, its evolution in the twentieth century from the margins to the cultural mainstream, and its evident contribution to postmodernism.
This edited collection of interdisciplinary essays explores the impact of illicit drug use on the intellectual and cultural landscape of the twentieth century in Europe and North America. It consists of approximately 12 articles of about 5000 words each, an introductory essay written by the editors, notes on contributors, and an index.
The aim of Asking Alice, however, is not to reiterate familiar arguments defending or challenging the right of the State to police the bloodstream of the body politic – but rather to offer fresh and unorthodox perspectives in academic writing on drugs, recognizing that illicit drug use is a key site of political and cultural resistance and of choices which structure identity, style and consciousness. Asking Alice is seen as a starting point for the development of a theoretical perspective that validates what Lenson terms "diversity of consciousness."
Ingrid Walker Fields
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