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Adding Smoke to Breath

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Durham University Library

Palace Green

Durham

DH1 3RN

United Kingdom

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By Dr Andrew Russell, Associate Professor of Anthropology (Durham University) and Co-Investigator on the Life of Breath project


In the past 500 years, tobacco use has spread rapidly from its evolutionary origins among indigenous communities in South America. This worldwide growth has been fuelled by its addictive properties, a murky colonial history and its contemporary exploitation by the forces of corporate and state-sponsored capitalism.

This has had frequently disastrous consequences for human health and well-being worldwide. How has an apparently humble plant managed to achieve such world domination? What are the latest manifestations of its shape-shifting abilities? What needs to happen if we are ever to put this particular genie back in its lamp and consider seriously ‘a world without tobacco’?

This relaxed evening talk will focus on the history of tobacco smoking and the consequences, acknowledged and unacknowledged, of adding smoke to breath in this way. Coinciding with the publication of his book Anthropology of Tobacco: Ethnographic Adventures in Non-Human Worlds (Routledge, 2019), Andrew Russell’s talk will present tobacco as a plant with agency and the ability to assume different shapes according to the diverse political and economic contexts in which it is found and which it helps form.


This event is part of the programme of events for Catch Your Breath (24 November 2018 - 17 March 2019), a free winter exhibition at Palace Green Library.

The evening talk will take place in the Courtyard Café and will include a free glass of wine. Due to limited ticket numbers, please ensure that you book in advance to avoid disappointment. If you have any queries, please visit our website or contact us at pg.custodian@durham.ac.uk.


Image credit: 'Frontispiece of an experimental dissertation...', Wellcome Collection.

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Durham University Library

Palace Green

Durham

DH1 3RN

United Kingdom

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