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Where: History Department Amphitheater - FFLCH -USP - Av. Prof. Lineu Prestes nº 338, Cidade Universitária, São Paulo (SP)

When: 29 e 30 de setembro de 2005

Sponsorship: NEIP – Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Psychoactives

Support: FFLCH/USP; History Department – USP; Graduate Program in Social Anthropology – USP.

Collaboration: Alto das Estrelas, Ecologia Cognitiva, Psicotropicus; Dínamo (NGO – Responsible information about drugs), Aborda (Brazilian Harm Reduction Association), IHRA (International Harm Reduction Association).

The Symposium “Drugs – Controversies and Perspectives” was held on the 29th and 30th of September in the History Department at the University of São Paulo. The Symposium was sponsored by the NEIP (Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Psychoactives) with the support of the FFLCH-USP, of the USP History Department and the USP Graduate Program in Social Anthropology, in addition to the collaboration of harm reduction associations. It represented an initiative to stimulate discussion in the field of the Human Sciences about psychoactive substances, highlighting the relevance of sociocultural and historical approaches to an area generally approached only by health professionals. Twenty-five researchers from different areas of the human sciences in Brazil and elsewhere joined together to share their research programs and weigh the results of research on “drugs.” The themes were as varied as possible, including the religious and ritual use of psychoactive substances (such as ayahuasca, consumed by Brazilian religious groups; tobacco, used by indigenous peoples of Amazonia; and Cannabis, used by Rastafaris), the secular or non-religious use of substances both licit (alcohol, tobacco) and illicit (cocaine, crack, and ecstasy), the relations between drugs and the media, medical discourses about some of these substances, current drug policies, narcotrafficking and policy alternatives to a prohibitionist system.

The event contributed to the historical contextualization of reflections about psychoactive substances, pointing to the relevance of their use in different cultures at different times, and the various forms of classification they can take. This historical contextualization reveals the existence of regularities in drug consumption, opening discussion on the nature of the formal and informal social controls of their use and about the various implications of current prohibitionist policy, pointing toward their serious social costs such as violence, exclusion, and criminality, among others.

The Symposium also promoted the release of two books, O uso ritual das plantas de poder (Campinas, Mercado de Letras, 2005) edited by Beatriz Labate and Sandra Goulart and Álcool e drogas na história do Brasil (São Paulo/Belo Horizonte, Alameda, Editora da PUC-MG, 2005), edited by Renato Pinto Venâncio and Henrique Soares Carneiro.

For more information: neipsicoativos@yahoo.com.br
USP Department of History – tel (55 + 11) 3091 2364.

(Translated to English by Matthew Meyer)


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