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Drugs Politics
Managing Disorder in the Islamic Republic of Iran

$80.00 ( ) USD

  • Date Published: June 2019
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781108622387

$ 80.00 USD ( )
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About the Authors
  • Iran has one of the world's highest rates of drug addiction: estimated to be between 2 and 7 percent of the entire population. This makes the questions that this book asks all the more salient: what is the place of illegal substances in the politics of modern Iran? How have drugs affected the formation of the Iranian state and its power dynamics? And how have governmental attempts at controlling and regulating illicit drugs affected drug consumption and addiction? By answering these questions, Maziyar Ghiabi suggests that the Islamic Republic of Iran's image as an inherently conservative state is not only misplaced and inaccurate, but in part a myth. In order to dispel this myth, he skilfully combines ethnographic narratives from drug users, vivid field observations from 'under the bridge', with archival material from the pre- and post-revolutionary era, statistics on drug arrests and interviews with public officials. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.

    • Offers essential analysis concerning the role of drugs in Iranian politics and society, including government responses to addiction and consumption
    • Makes a connection between Iran's drug policies and global ones, making sure to connect local and national with international trends and policy-making
    • Combines archival material with interviews with public officials and drug users themselves, making this a trove of primary material
    • This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Maziyar Ghaibi’s book is a fascinating study of the politics and lifeworld of illicit drugs, one that reveals a great deal about the paradoxical nature of politics in the Islamic Republic. Empirically rich and analytically rigorous, this first comprehensive account of drug politics in Iran is likely to remain a standard text.' Asef Bayat, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

    'A refreshing and rare on-the-ground analysis of Iranian lived politics through the prism of drugs. With a rare depth and width of archival research and discourse analysis, Ghiabi brings us a unique combination of exquisite storytelling, inter-disciplinary inquiry, and ethnographic possibilities. Situated in a global perspective, Drugs Politics offers a fresh alternative to exceptionalist and oft-essentializing trends in studying Iran. A tremendous achievement toward a much needed holistic understanding of policy, Iran, and life itself.' Orkideh Behrouzan, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and author of Prozak Diaries: Psychiatry and Generational Memory in Iran

    'This is a landmark study, an eye-opener for those who still associate the Islamic Republic with a harshly punitive stance on narcotics. Iran, a society in which opium was traditionally integrated into life, has in recent decades been hit by a wave of synthetic drugs - heroin, meth and crack - that are now massively used by the down and out as well as by its globalized, anomic youth. Given wide access to official policy makers, Ghiabi tells the story of how the authorities of the Islamic republic have dealt with this problem by opting for harm reduction rather than criminalization, how they abandoned the shah’s unimaginative American-style 'war on drugs' and, working with NGOs and international organizations, adopted a pragmatic, neo-liberal approach that mixes draconian measures against dealers with a compassionate, welfare-focused approach vis-à-vis users. Anyone curious about Iran’s innovative approach to drugs should read this deeply informed, engaging book.' Rudi Matthee, University of Delaware

    'With historical sweep and ethnographic insight, Ghiabi makes the politics of drug consumption and addiction visible to audiences which have preferred to observe these matters from above and afar. His tale of drug politics in the Islamic Republic will not only be surprising for most Iranians, but also crafts a provocative lens with which to rethink our views on state-society dynamics across the world.' Kevan Harris, University of California, Los Angeles and author of A Social Revolution: Politics and the Welfare State in Iran

    'In this comparatively informed study, Maziar Ghiabi untangles the ironies and ambiguities of Iranian drug policies before and after the revolution of 1979. Based on rigorous fieldwork, this book is the foundational text for future research on Iran’s drug problems.' Houchang Chehabi, Boston University

    'Through rigorous archival investigation and courageous ethnographic inquiry, Maziyar Ghiabi traces the history of public responses to the drug epidemic in Iran and analyzes the current challenges of its management. Illuminating the tensions between punitive and reformist approaches, he provides a fascinating account of the Islamic Republic’s government of crises.' Didier Fassin, Princeton University, New Jersey

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2019
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781108622387
    • contains: 40 b/w illus.
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures
    List of tables
    Note on transliteration
    Persian glossary
    English glossary
    Prologue. 'Not the king but the minister ... not the law but the police'
    1. The drugs assemblage
    Part I:
    2. A genealogy of drugs politics: opiates under the Pahlavi
    3. Drugs, revolution, war
    4. Reformism and drugs: formal and informal politics of harm reduction
    5. Crisis as an institution: the Expediency Council
    Part II:
    6. The anthropological mutation of methamphetamines
    7. The art of managing disorder
    8. Drugs and populism: Ahmadinejad and grassroots authoritarianism
    Epilogue. Power, crisis, drugs
    Select bibliography

  • Author

    Maziyar Ghiabi, University of Oxford
    Maziyar Ghiabi is an Italian/Iranian social scientist, ethnographer and historian, currently a lecturer at the University of Oxford and Titular Lecturer at Wadham College. Prior to this position, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Paris School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS) and a member of the Institut de Recherche Interdisciplinaire des Enjeux Sociaux (IRIS). After finishing his B.A. and M.A. at the University of Ca' Foscari Venice, he obtained a Doctorate in Politics at the University of Oxford (St Antony's College) where he was a Wellcome Trust Scholar in Society and Ethics (2013–17). His interest falls at the crossroads of different disciplinary and intellectual fields, from medical anthropology to politics to modern social history across the Middle East and the Mediterranean. He is the editor of Power and Illicit Drugs in the Global South (2018).

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